Moving Elderly Parents Safely

Moving Elderly Parents Safely

Moving or supporting a load by hand, bodily force, or with equipment:

Moving and handling is a central part of caring for the elderly. As a family member or a friend, it is essential that you keep up to date with the key manual handling regulations before moving your loved one.

‘Manual handling’ refers to a range of activities, including lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling and carrying. The ‘load’ can be animate, such as a person or animal, or inanimates, such as a box or trolley.

All independent carers are taught safe manual handling techniques as part of their mandatory training, and will not undertake any transfers they believe will cause harm. It is recommended that, if you are taking on a significant role in the care of a loved one, you undertake training as well.

There are several courses available:

Our guidance:

Our manual handling guidance applies not only to moving or supporting loads, by hand or bodily force but the use of any equipment which assists in these processes, too. This includes walking frames, wheelchairs, slings, hoists, and any other equipment required to move or support your loved one.

In what follows, we offer some useful information on manual handling, which will help ensure the safety of yourself, your loved one, and anyone else providing care.

Practising safe manual handling:

Practising safe manual handling techniques can significantly reduce the risk of injury to yourself and others. DO NOT wait for an injury to occur before taking action. Learn the correct lifting and carrying techniques from the beginning, and make sure you understand all of the risks and precautions before handling a load.

Responsibility for safe handling lies with the individual providing care. All individuals must work according to mandatory policies and procedures. We advise that all persons administering care regularly update their manual handling training. This can be done by seeking out refresher courses with organisations such as St Johns Ambulance (www.sja.org.uk) or other registered training providers.

Failing to lift or move a load correctly may result in injury. Potential injuries include slipped discs, dislocated joints, fractures, breaks, bruises or scrapes. Remember that poorly supported individuals also risk suffering the same serious injuries.

These injuries can have long term effects. With the following information and guidance on the safest manual handling practices, we aim to reduce the risk of manual handling injuries to those administering and receiving care.

We advise that you NEVER attempt to manually lift any person. This refers to lifting the whole, or any significant part, of a person’s weight.

We suggest that you only break this rule in the case of a serious emergency, whereby leaving an individual in their current position puts them at serious risk of injury or death. In these exceptional circumstances, the situation must be assessed to find a reasonable balance, to ensure that one party’s benefit does not significantly increase the other party’s risk. Always call 999 before attempting to manually lift any person, and closely follow all guidance given.

We further advise that, prior to moving or handling people or objects, you read and understand what reasonable steps can be taken to reduce the risk of injury.

When undertaking manual handling tasks, you should:

  • Ensure that the health and safety of yourself and others are not put at risk when carrying out manual handling activities;
  • Use the recommended techniques and equipment when undertaking manual handling tasks to minimise the chance of injury;
  • Report any incident or issues arising from manual handling tasks to your OT or GP immediately.

Assessment of risk:

  • A risk assessment of all manual handling activities will be carried out by your independent carer (should you have one) or an OT;
  • We advise that all individuals administering care (including family members and friends) actively participate in risk reduction exercises such as risk assessments, and report any concerns or issues as they arise. That might involve acquiring specialised chairs, hoists and sheets.

When considering the risks, take the following into consideration:

Task: The overall risk of the activity

  • Bending and stooping to lift a load significantly increases the risk of back injury;
  • As such, we advise that items are lifted from no lower than knee height and no higher than shoulder height;
  • Outside of this range, lifting capacity is reduced and the risk of injury is increased;
  • Where items are required to be lifted above shoulder height, a stand or suitable means of access should be used;
  • Items requiring pushing or pulling should be placed as near to waist level as possible. Pushing is always preferable, especially where the back can rest against a fixed object to give leverage;
  • Carrying distances should be minimised as far as possible, especially if the task is repeated regularly. Repetitive tasks should be avoided wherever possible;
  • Avoid tasks which require twisting the body wherever possible, and consider:

Individual: The risks to the person you are caring for:

  • Consideration must be given to the age, body weight, physical fitness and frailty of both the person undertaking the manual handling task and the person being assisted;
  • Consideration must also be given to the personal limitations of all parties. Do not handle loads beyond individual capability. Assistance should be sought where necessary;

Load: The riks their weight poses

  • To reduce strain, keep the load as close to the trunk of the body as possible. The load should not be of such a size as to obscure vision;
  • Indication of the load’s weight and centre of gravity should be provided where appropriate;
  • Where individuals can bear the weight independently, contact should only be provided to steady the individual and support their balance;
  • If an individual falls to the ground while lifting a load, they should be encouraged to lift themselves back to a sitting position and then a standing position. If they are in danger by not being moved immediately, assistance should be sought.

The environment: The area in which you are doing the task

  • Sufficient knowledge and understanding of the care environment can significantly reduce the risk of injury;
  • The care environment must have adequate space to allow lifting or moving to be conducted safely. Any route through which people or objects are to be moved must be free from obstructions;
  • Floors and other working surfaces must be in a safe condition. Measures should be taken to ensure adequate ventilation, particularly where there is limited airflow.

To stay safe, remember ‘TILE’ (T-I-L-E): TASK, INDIVIDUAL, LOAD, ENVIRONMENT

Further information:

Looking for further guidance? Visit:

If you have found this useful or if we have gotten anything wrong, please do let us know. And if you have any questions, please get in touch, by clicking on the chat icon to the right of your screen, or by going to the contact us section.