Moving and handling equipment

Please note if you are a provider registered with CQC, and with premises located in England, CQC is the relevant regulatory body for patient safety matters

The type and amount of equipment needed will vary according to the specific needs of care service users. When providing equipment, providers should consider:

  • the needs of the individual – helping to maintain, wherever possible, independence
  • the safety of the individual and staff 

Necessary equipment may include:

  • a selection of hoists – eg hoists to raise fallen individuals from the floor, standing hoists, mobile hoists etc
  • bath hoists or bath lifts and/or adjustable height baths
  • a sufficient number of slings of different types and sizes
  • slide sheets
  • transfer boards used to assist in moving from and to different furniture (eg. seat to wheelchair)
  • turntables used to assist in turning people around
  • electric profiling beds – for dependent/immobile residents
  • wheelchairs
  • handling belts to assist residents who can support their own weight, eg to help them stand up. They should not be used for lifting
  • lifting cushions used to assist people to get up from the floor or bath
  • bed levers, support rails/poles
  • emergency evacuation equipment
  • suitable walking aids, hand rails etc for people needing minor assistance
  • bariatric equipment (ie for use with very heavy people)
  • other homecare handling equipment – see the Disabled Living Foundationwebsite for examples

Introduce equipment only after assessment and use in accordance with the care plan and manufacturer's instructions. 

Moving and handling equipment used for health and social care may be classified as medical devices. The supply and design of such devices or equipment is regulated by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Find guidance on managing medical devices and information on how to report defects, adverse incidents or problems with equipment on the MHRA website.

Using hoists safely

It is important that safe working procedures are followed during hoisting to avoid accidents that can result in serious or fatal injuries.

Problems include:

  • selection of the wrong size sling – which can result in discomfort if the sling is too small, and/or the person slipping through if it is too large. Staff should be aware that sling sizes and coding vary between manufacturers
  • wrong type of hoist or sling for the individual, or task – which can lead to inadequate support and a risk of falling. For example, toileting slings give a great degree of access, but little support
  • incompatibility of hoist and sling can result in insecure attachment between the two. Follow the manufacturer's advice and refer any concerns about sling/hoist design, supply, manufacturer's instructions or compatibility to the MHRA, the regulator for medical devices
  • failure of equipment due to lack of maintenance/inspection
  • leaving a vulnerable person unattended in a hoist; or in a position where they might be at risk of falling
  • overturning of the hoist due to difficult surfaces, transporting an individual over a long distance on a hoist, or not following the manufacturer's instructions
  • failure to use a safety harness, belt or attachment appropriately. Some slings come with different length loops for attachment to the hoist to increase comfort or the range of positions. You must choose the correct loops so that an individual is not at risk of slipping from the sling. Use the same loop configuration on both sides to reduce the risk of sideways falling

The individual's risk assessment and care plan for hoisting should specify:

  • which hoist to use for which task
  • type and size of sling and any configurations of loops or leg attachments
  • use of any additional safety devices such as safety belts
  • number of carers needed to carry out the task
  • any other relevant information specific to the person being hoisted

You must communicate this information to staff and keep it accessible for easy reference. It is common practice to include assessments in individual care plans or profiles and provide an additional quick reference guide in a convenient place, eg on the inside of the resident's wardrobe door.

For further information on using hoists safely, please see our information sheet Getting to grips with hoisting (HSIS3).

Maintenance of lifting equipment

Where lifting equipment, including hoists and slings, is used by people who are at work, the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) apply. For further information please see our equipment safety pages.

More information on LOLER and safe hoisting and maintaining lifting equipment can be found at:

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Updated 2021-09-28