The patient lifter….. This has completely changed the game for us.
To be perfectly honest I had no idea there was such a contraption and over the years I heard the carers talking about these machines, but I never saw them used. Dad’s latest decline has happened fairly quickly and we have gone from standing and shuffling everywhere to being lifted and wheeled everywhere (within a month or so).
Bob no longer can stand up, walk or bear his own weight so now needs to be transported in a harness via a hydraulic lifting machine into a chair, bed or anywhere else for that matter. When you see your loved one suspended in the air inside a harness, (a bit like a baby in a stork’s mouth) you start to question where they are at. Not much has shocked me over the journey but I did find this procedure confronting the first few times. I must admit it went through my head, “what kind of existence is this?”. Dad now needs two carers to deal with him and us family members feel a bit helpless as we can no longer play the lead caring role. This physical disengagement can be hard to deal with when you have been so ‘hands on’ for such a long time.
I tend to now go back to spending the ‘quality time’ with dad (as a son visiting) and actually let the carers do their work. Before dad can be lifted anywhere he has to be rolled over a few times to allow the harness to be attached. They use a fabric sheet called a ‘Slippery Sam’ (that’s what they call it at our nursing home) and they place this under the resident. This allows the carers to roll the person from side to side to allow the harness to be fitted. The carers tend to have discussions about which colour straps to hook on the lifting machine as I gather the person’s height and weight may have something to do with this decision? Once the colour is selected they hook the harness on and the lifting begins. I am told the harness straps need to be carefully placed for the men. (if you know what I mean…)
Mum or I may help the carers by re-assuring dad with some calming words and firm hand holding. When they first lift him up the feeling for dad is one of fear and terror as the harness takes up his weight and suddenly elevates him mid-air. He is moved around the room like a crane and is dangled quite high above the bed which makes you a bit nervous. He is then placed in a shower chair and wheeled into the bathroom or placed into a princess chair where he now spends his day.
This new part of the journey has been difficult for our family as we have to hand back the prime responsibility of caring to the paid carers. The carers do an amazing job and it is really hard work in trying conditions. Amazingly dad has been really happy once placed in his princess chair (or is it an ML chair?). Once he is ready for the day he usually has a snooze straight after due to exhaustion as the showering procedure is really labour intensive. It is amazing how humans adapt to new conditions and dad is no exception.
When I turn up to the nursing home now I find him perched up in his chair in the main communal room laughing at other residents. He is relaxed and still produces that trademark smile that keeps our spirits up. We continue to banter and laugh in our very own version of ‘Nursing Home Seinfeld’…..a show about ‘NOTHING’.