Manual handling

A study of the impact on disabled people of professionals’
interpretation of the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992

The information provided by disabled people who took part in the
study shows the impact “no lifting” policies has had on their
lives. They describe the discomfort, inadequacies and oppression
they experienced due to the professional interpretation of the
manual handling regulations.

There was evidence that the professionals viewed hoists as being
the answer to all manual handling needs and that some people were
coerced into accepting a hoist to eliminate manual handling before
they were able to access other services. As the study points out
hoists do not eliminate the need for manual handling, which will be
necessary for a disabled person to get into a sling.

Disabled people were concerned that reliance on a hoist to get
on and off the toilet could lead to hoist dependency, making it
difficult to use it when they were away from home, thus increasing
the need to schedule their lives around going to the toilet. “You
just end up thinking about your bladder the whole time. You can
manage other things but you can’t manage bowels and menstruation,”
said one interviewee.

Following the implementation of “no lifting” policies the
disabled participants found that professionals were reluctant to
discuss manual handing. Access to training was seen as essential.
However, there was a view that this was irrelevant because courses
“indoctrinate in no-lifting policies”.

The study found that it was a common experience for the
participants to feel oppressed by the professionals. The study also
found that professionals’ interpretation of the Manual Handling
Regulations 1992 and subsequent “no lifting policies” to be
oppressive to disabled people with crucial manual handling

This valuable study should bolster the case for a review of
disabled people’s manual handling needs to be on the agendas of
social services and health trusts.

Source: Published by the author and obtainable from Sue
Cunningham, PO Box 275, Keighley BD22 9YS.

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