Care Certificate

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Understanding the Proper Use and Handling of a Wheelchair

In this guide, we'll be exploring the proper use and handling of a wheelchair, using our patient Doy as an example. It's important to remember that wheelchairs come in many different designs, each tailored to the user's needs and comfort.

Ensuring the Right Wheelchair Fit

Comfort and fit are of utmost importance in a wheelchair, especially if the user spends prolonged periods in it. The chair needs to be correctly sized for the user. If the chair is too small, it can lead to uncomfortable pressure against the legs, which can lead to pressure sores. The chair should be properly measured to fit the person.

Comfort Enhancements: Cushions and Blankets

Using a cushion with airflow or made from soft micro-memory material can greatly enhance comfort by conforming to the user's body shape. A soft blanket may also be required for those who spend extended periods in the chair.

Understanding the Features of a Wheelchair

Most wheelchairs come with footplates to keep the user's feet off the ground, especially useful for those with limited use of their legs. This prevents obstruction during the chair's movement.

Utilising Wheelchair Brakes

Brakes are another crucial component of wheelchairs, typically located on the outer side. They're designed for easy operation - pushing forward to engage and pulling back to release. Before moving the person, always double-check that the brakes are disengaged on both sides.

Moving and Handling the Wheelchair

Moving someone in a wheelchair requires proper technique to avoid strain. Use your large muscles, such as the gluteus maximus (buttocks) and quads (thighs), instead of just your upper body strength. For right-handed and right-footed individuals like me, the right foot acts as the primary 'push-off' point.

Always keep your arms close to your body and maintain a steady pace. Consider the terrain and surface while pushing. Inform the user about any surface changes to ensure they're prepared. Good open communication is vital for a smooth journey.

Coming to a Halt

Once you've reached the destination, ask the user to engage the brakes if they're able. This ensures that the wheelchair stays stationary and that the user is secure.

Understanding the proper use and handling of a wheelchair can significantly enhance the user's comfort and overall experience.