Bariatric patients are classed as overweight and obese patients who have a body mass index that is measured at 30 or over. We use the body mass index (BMI) to determine obesity as it factors in height as well as weight. Patients who are classed as bariatric may encounter difficulty with moving, which can truly impact the level of care they receive as they can’t leave the house without help. Dental practices, clinics and hospitals may also not have the sufficient requirements to deliver treatment in a safe environment. 

In order for bariatric patients to feel that they can receive the treatment they need, practices and clinics have to be prepared. They will have to train and equip themselves with the knowledge, equipment and tools to safely move bariatric patients through their premises. This article will go over what steps are needed to move a bariatric patient safely and what needs to be considered when moving them. 


The 10 steps of moving a bariatric patient

In order to prevent injury and to ensure the patient is comfortable at all times, moving a bariatric patient requires careful planning. For a practice or clinic to be able to offer health services to bariatric patients, you need to have the right training, suitable premises, and specially designed equipment. Mistakes and errors in judgement could risk both the patient and the staff so it’s essential that everything is planned ahead. These steps will reduce the margin for error. 

  1. Assess the Patient: When the patient arrives or even before treatment is planned, you will need to assess their level of mobility. Can the patient assist in their movement or are they completely dependent? 
  2. Plan the Move: You will need to map out the best route to the clinic where the patient will be treated. Clearing the hallways to prevent any obstacles is important. You may also wish to consider the patient’s privacy and provide cover. You will need to make sure that there is plenty of room for your staff to move around the patient when in transit. 
  3. Use Proper Equipment: If a patient has very little mobility, equipment designed for moving bariatric patients will assist such as hoists, transport chairs, support bars and walking aids. While a patient will have their own equipment, having access to aids at the premise can assist in cases where patients have reduced mobility but aren’t completely dependent. Having equipment helps your staff as well as the patient to feel safe and supported. 
  4. Form a Team: Moving a bariatric patient often requires multiple caregivers. Ensure that you have enough trained personnel available to assist with the move safely.
  5. Communicate Clearly: Before moving the patient, communicate the plan to all involved caregivers. Make sure everyone understands their responsibilities.
  6. Positioning: When using a transport chair or wheelchair, make sure the patient is properly positioned before attempting to move them. Use pillows or wedges to support their body and limbs.
  7. Use Proper Lifting Techniques; When lifting or transferring the patient, use proper body mechanics to prevent injury to yourself and the patient. Bend your knees, keep your back straight, and use the strength of your legs to lift rather than your back.
  8. Monitor the Patient: Keep talking to the patient to look for signs of distress or discomfort. Stop the move immediately if the patient encounters discomfort, instability and worry. Reassess and help them to feel secure before continuing.
  9. Record your progress: After safely moving the patient, make notes about the move in their records. These notes will help future moves so you are prepared each time and will help the patient to feel respected and cared for. 
  10. Follow Up: After the move, continue to monitor the patient’s condition and provide any necessary follow-up care.


Important tips to consider

When moving a patient, there are some tips that will help you to provide a successful move. Here are some considerations.

How to judge a patient’s level of mobility

Knowing exactly what level of assistance the patient can provide themselves will help you to give the best level of care. Here are the different levels of mobility.

Mobile: The patient can perform all their daily living activities and are independently mobile.

Partially mobile: they may need to use a walking stick or walking frame.

Dependent: they require help with their daily activities and need help transferring from chairs and beds. 

Highly dependent: classed as bedbound and dependent on carers and family members to be transferred. 

Using walking aids

It’s general practice to have some emergency transport aids at your practice or clinic. Not just for bariatric patients either. Having a wheelchair and support could really help in an emergency. At Design Specific, however, we do provide benches and transport chairs that fit the requirements for bariatric patients. These are essential in moving bariatric patients safely. 

You can see our transport chairs in action here

Be respectful

Everyone is deserving of respect. Make sure any bariatric patients are given as much respect and compassion as possible when in your care. Overweight and obese patients encounter a lot of emotional stress and judgement over their conditions. It can be the reason why so many don’t end up receiving medical treatment as they fear being ill-treated. Treating them with care and respect will encourage them to receive expected treatment which they need for their general health. 

Never lift alone

Always work in a team when lifting and moving bariatric patients. Even if you are trained in how to correctly use body mechanics, putting undue stress on your own body not only risks injury to yourself but to the patient as well. 

Improving accessibility and mobility for bariatric patients

At Design Specific, we create treatment chairs and transport aids for bariatric patients and patients with special needs. Our goal is to improve the level of care available for patients with disabilities that affect their mobility and therefore their access to medical treatment. We have expertly designed and developed chairs, benches and wheelchair platforms that allow medical practitioners to deliver treatment to bariatric patients safely. We work closely with dentists, podiatrists and other health specialists in the UK and US. 

To get started on developing your clinic to be accessible for all patients, you can arrange for an in-house demonstration. We can bring our equipment to you. You can book a free, no-obligation trial online here. Also, if you have any questions about our equipment, you can give us a call on +44 (0) 1273 813904.