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What is Manual Handling in Care?

Updated: May 6

a care worker lifting someone out of a wheelchair

Manual handling in care is the practice of safe lifting, moving and placement of people and objects within the health and social care industry. Carrying out the correct technique is important to reduce injury to both the person carrying out the handling as well as the person being moved.


In this Article:


What is Manual Handling in Care?

In care homes, a major part of the role for staff members is manual handling. The manual handling definition is using bodily force to transport or support a resident in care. This includes the moving, repositioning and lifting of certain residents that require help to move from point A to point B. This must be performed correctly to avoid unnecessary risk or harm to either the resident or the staff members and to ensure all parties are safe during the transportation.

Manual handling can also be referred to as ‘moving and handling’ to specify the movement of a person and not an object. In other jobs where manual handling is required, this may mean the moving and heavy lifting of objects and so it is important to differentiate between the two.


Manual Handling in Care Homes

The manual handling training is put into place to protect both the staff members and residents from injury. Moving heavy objects can put a huge strain on the body and so care homes will provide tools such as hoists and lifting slings to help the staff move the residents without overstretching and damaging their bodies in the process.

There should also always be enough staff on shifts to help with the assistance of manual handling tasks and ensure there are no injuries caused. Adequate manual handling training is required of all staff members to avoid the risk of harm as it is very important that everyone’s safety is considered.


The Five Principles of Manual Handling

In a workplace, there are five principles of manual handling which must be learnt by anyone who performs manual handling tasks to correctly guide your actions.

1. Plan – a plan must always be made prior to the action.

• How you will lift or move the object or person

• Check and clear the route of any potential hazards

• Do you need assistance from another staff member or lifting equipment?

2. Position – make sure you are positioned correctly with your feet apart and back straight to avoid any strain or injury when lifting.

3. Pick – ensure you pick up the load or person correctly and carefully, using your legs instead of your back and keep your balance.

4. Proceed – this is how you get from point A to point B. You must keep the weight close to your body, keep your back straight and your head up so you are able to see where to go. Avoid bending or twisting to help you get the person to the destination safely.

5. Place – carefully place the resident down so as not to jolt or bruise them while also protecting your own body from strain when bending.

Once all 5 steps have been completed, you will have successfully moved the resident from point A to B without causing injury to either party.


The UK’s Health and Safety Executive states that any type of moving and handling in a care home is an important factor of health and safety. HSE provide rules and guidelines to help keep people safe in the following legislations:

• Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

• Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

• Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998

• Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998

The legislation provides guidelines regarding workplace safety from safely moving heavy loads of laundry to correctly moving people, for example, from their bed to a chair or into the shower. These legislations were put into place to ensure the safety of all residents and staff members during moving and handling tasks.

There is no legal limit to how much weight a person can lift at work but there are guidelines which state the maximum weight for women should be 16kg and 25kg for men. This limit guide is just one factor to be considered along with other factors which may include your own health issues, previous injuries and more to ensure you only lift however much you are able to, to avoid injury.

To help reduce the risk of injury, employees should use any lifting equipment when necessary, receive professional training on how to correctly perform manual handling and ensure there is enough staff to help with specific tasks.

a care worker reading a book to an elderly woman


Moving and Handling Training

It is essential that all staff members that are required to move and handle residents must receive full training to ensure everyone is safe throughout the task. There are online training courses and in person practical courses in which you can learn how to use a hoist for elderly people and other moving and handling equipment such as a sling, bed levers, wheelchairs, handling belts, slide sheets and more. This is what moving and handling training includes:

  • How to use a hoist and other lifting aids and equipment correctly

  • How to move and handle people correctly

  • The right techniques to use

  • Risk assessments

  • Legislation

  • The five principles

  • Workplace accidents / injuries

  • Key skills

Moving and handling is an everyday occurrence in care homes and the training is essential to ensure carers learn how to perform it correctly without causing any injuries to the resident or themselves.

The manual handling training needs to be reviewed regularly to ensure all residents receive the support and the care they require. Some important questions to consider during the review include:

  • Are tasks currently completed safely using the manual handling techniques?

  • Have there been any accidents or injuries caused when providing manual handling to either a resident or a staff member?

  • Have all the current staff members partaken in the manual handling training and know what to do at all times?


Why is Manual Handling So Important in Care Homes?

Manual handling is a regular part of the working day in a care home, whether it is picking up the laundry, transporting food and helping the residents with their day to day living. Some residents are more able than others but many residents with mobility issues or mental health issues such as dementia will require help with everyday tasks including getting out of bed, getting dressed, going to the toilet, washing and eating.

Also referred to as ‘live loads’, residents often cause challenges during manual handling as it can be a distressing situation for them. The manual handling can cause pain to the residents who can also move or shout during the process as they get more agitated and upset. This is why manual handling performed to a high standard by fully trained carers is so important to reduce the upset and risk of injury as well as maintaining the dignity of the residents during the performance of everyday tasks.


What Are the Risks of Poor Manual Handling?

Manual handling is a major part of legislation in the workplace because there are many risks involved if it is not performed correctly at all times.


Manual handling is put into place to reduce the risk of injury. However, moving a person is a heavy weight to lift and it can cause problems if the carers over exert themselves or stretch a muscle. This can cause pain or discomfort for a few days or it can cause long term issues which manual handling training aims to avoid.

Not only can poor manual handling cause injury to the carers, but it can also injure the care home resident if they aren’t moved or handled in the correct way. If the equipment is used incorrectly or the manual handling techniques not used correctly, then this can cause serious harm to the resident.

Time off work

If the incorrect manual handling techniques are regularly used, this can cause damage to the body and muscles or other long term health issues that may require some time off work to recover. This may also result in the loss of earnings and sometimes even mental health problems such as depression or stress.

a care worker with a lifting hoist

In summary

Manual handling in care is an essential training for all members of staff to receive to ensure the residents are safe and are moved correctly to reduce the risk of damage or injury. Carers are required to always use the correct techniques and to know how to use all lifting equipment to not only protect the resident during moving and handling with everyday tasks but to also keep themselves safe and injury free.

There are a number of HSE legislations that cover the regulations of health and safety of both staff members and the residents in the workplace. It is an employee’s duty of care to refresh their training regularly and ensure they always provide the highest standard of care learnt from the manual handling training course.


a link to a moving and handling people course
a link to a manual handling course




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