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Need help with patient lifting and transfer? We have home solutions to fit your needs


It's a critical job but one of the toughest one caregivers have: helping someone with limited mobility get in and out of bed so they can use a wheelchair or travel to a bathroom. Patients need to be kept safe and secure, and caregivers need to avoid injury. Luckily, Mobility Plus of Greater Milwaukee has many ways to make patient lifting and transfer a better experience for everyone.

The first step for someone who needs patient-transfer solutions is to assess the situation, says Steve Ziembiec, owner of Mobility Plus of Greater Milwaukee and a certified aging-in-place specialist. What is the living space like? How far to the bathroom? Is it a temporary or long-term situation? How limited is the patient's mobility? "It's important to understand both the patient's needs and their environment," Ziembiec says.

Ziembiec and the Mobility Plus team can help find the solution that suits both the patient and their home situation best. Starting with someone who needs a little help to someone who needs a lot, here's the range of options Mobility Plus can supply.

Sit-To-Stand Lifts

If a patient can get into a sitting position without much problem, something as simple as a gait belt can work. Worn around a patient’s waist, the caregiver uses it to steady a patient as they stand up and transfer to a wheelchair. But this might not be enough for a larger patient or one who’s less steady on their feet. In those cases, sit-to-stand lifts are great solutions, says Ziembiec.

Sit-to-stand lifts can be wheeled up to a patient's bed and used with a sling. The caregiver secures the sling around the patient while they’re sitting on the edge of a bed or chair, then attaches the sling to the lift while its wheels are securely locked. The patient places their feet on a platform, grabs the handlebars and, with the sling securing them, pulls themself into an upright position. They can then be wheeled to another location.

"What's great about this product is its versatility," said Ziembiec. The patient can either stand or sit on the device while being transferred, and the caregiver can offer varying amounts of assistance depending on the patient's ability. "This is for someone who can almost stand on their own and you want to work on improving their balance," says Ziembiec.

  • Things to consider: Works best on smooth floor surfaces. Compact enough to move through standard doorways.

Hoyer Lifts

When someone has less trunk stability and cannot get into an upright position without aid, Hoyer lifts can make transfers safe and easy. Like the sit-to-stand lift, they roll up to a bed and work with a sling, but can be positioned directly over a reclining patient. The slings for these are larger and provide more support. Once attached to the lift, the patient is raised by cranking the lift higher (electric options are also available), which then positions them to be moved in the sling to a new location. The lift's legs adjust wider for stability and narrower to go through doorways.

  • Things to consider: Weight capacity varies according to model. Works best on smooth floor surfaces. Different slings are available, for instance mesh for transferring directly to a bath, shower or toilet. Rentals available.

Ceiling Lifts by Amico

With ceiling lifts, the lifting mechanism moves on a track that's installed over the patient's bed. They are best for long-term needs and for patients with little or no mobility and require minimal effort by a caregiver. "They’re the ultimate solution," says Ziembiec. "If you’re going to be transferring patients on a regular basis, this is the safest way."

Mobility Plus of Greater Milwaukee sells and installs lifts by Amico, whose lifts were originally designed for operating rooms. Ziembiec calls Amico the "Cadillac" brand due to its smart design, durability, reliability, low maintenance, and ease of use.

The basic principle is the same: a patient is secured in a sling and the sling is attached to an overhead lift. Amico's lifting mechanism is called a GoLift, which is portable – just 10 pounds – and can lift up to 700 pounds when snapped into position on a track. Once the patient is secured, the GoLift moves along the track, transporting the patient to a wheelchair.

These lifts can be installed above a toilet, above a bed, above an armchair – in virtually any spot in the house. The GoLift, whose battery charges while it's on the track, can be switched to different tracks in the home as needed. Depending on a room’s dimensions and other factors, the track can be installed in a variety of ways. Freestanding tracks, which assemble and disassemble quickly, are available for a temporary solution or when you want a track than can move from room to room.

Ziembiec recently installed Amico ceiling lifts for a client and asked a caregiver to demonstrate how they worked. "And the caregiver said, 'This thing is fantastic! It's so much easier than using a regular lift.'"Ziembiec agrees: "It's got a ton of cool safety features, and operating it is a breeze, an absolute breeze."

  • Things to consider: Curved tracks can also be installed. Capacity choices are 400 pounds, 700 pounds, and 1,000 pounds. Many types of slings are available, such as mesh for transferring directly to a bath, shower, or toilet.

Find out what's best for you

The solutions for patient lift and transfer are surprisingly varied and versatile. Ziembec, who's a licensed dwelling contractor, can help you find the best choice for you and your home. He and the Mobility Plus of Greater Milwaukee team offer installation and repair services. Many patient lift and transfer solutions are available as rentals or rent-to-own.

Call to schedule a free consultation at (414) 367-4004 today!