Amble preparation and expert training are key when making your clinic a safe environment for bariatric patients to receive treatment for their health needs. For patients who are classed as bariatric, which means that their body mass index exceeds 40, extra measures are necessary when handling them in a clinical setting. For the sake of your staff and the patient, you must make sure that everyone has access to the right equipment and knows fully the best way to work with bariatric patients. Planning ahead and preparing before moving patients between different rooms can reduce risks to both your staff and the patient themselves. 

As bariatric patients with reduced mobility require assistance with movement and rely on support, it’s essential that you anticipate their needs while ensuring their safety while having them in your care. Equipping your practice with seating that provides suitable support helps you to treat bariatric patients safely, offering them comfort and care while in your capable hands. 


Risk factors for clinic staff and carers

When caring for a bariatric patient, certain tasks carry a risk and must be handled with extra help to avoid any risks. Depending on the patient and the environment, a simple task can end up providing challenges that you didn’t expect. For your staff’s safety and your patients’, you’ll need to take extra care when carrying out the following:

  • Transferring a patient
  • Helping a patient to stand
  • Lifting a patient from a chair 
  • Sitting up a patient who is laying in bed
  • Repositioning a patient in a seat or bead
  • Changing dressings or replacing incontinence equipment
  • Dressing or undressing a patient
  • Washing a patient 
  • Weighing a patient

Before carrying out any task on a patient, make sure that they are aware of what is going on as confusion can lead to unseen problems. Talking to your patient throughout the whole process is essential for everyone’s safety and peace of mind. 

Don’t lift a patient on your own

While it’s essential in health care to know how to safely pick up a patient, you shouldn’t handle this on your own with a bariatric patient. Body mechanics will protect your spine and help you to distribute weight safely on a stable base, yet this is not enough with bariatric patients. Always have help and make use of equipment to protect your health and the patient’s.


What you must consider when moving bariatric patients

These important steps ensure that both the patient and the caregivers are at no risk of injury at any time. The acronym ‘Be Safer’ forms a handy checklist of bases that you need to cover. You can see the full guide on bariatric transfers here

B – Bariatric Assessment

Before carrying out any task with the patient, you must assess their mobility and level of independence, as well as their body shape and any important medical problems that must be factored in. 

E – Equipment Assessment

Ensure that your equipment is suitable for the patient’s weight, dimensions, body shape and mobility. Not all bariatric equipment will suit every patient so you will need to adjust your equipment first before moving your patient. Make sure there is plenty of support for their weight and that they will be perfectly comfortable when first moved into the chair or bed. 

S – Space Assessment

Clear your route so that there are no barriers or hazards in the way which could cause hold-ups and risks. Make sure that the path stays clear before you have your patient in transit so inform other staff to keep the way clear. Also make sure that you have plenty of clearance when navigating through corridors and doorways. 

A – Assistive Personnel

Determine how many members of staff will be needed to safely operate the equipment and manage the task safely. Make sure every member of the team has training to move the patient safely, knowing how to distribute weight and lift with full support. If your patient can manage some mobility on their own, make sure your staff is aware and they can factor in their ability to support their own weight to reduce risk. 

F – Formulation of the plan

Set out a plan for the transfer and review with the full team, ensuring that everyone knows the roles they have to play. You should ensure everyone is familiar with the equipment and always put the patient’s comfort first. 

E – Execution of the plan

While moving your patient, use the proper mechanics to limit any injury to yourself as well to the patient. Don’t take on more than you can manage and share the task between you. Make sure you allocate someone to lead the task and direct everyone. 

R – Respect for the bariatric patient

At all times, maintain special care for your patient. When moving the patient, keep in mind their privacy. Always engage in conversation and keep up communication so the patient can let you know if they are uncomfortable, feel unstable, need further assistance or have any concerns. 


How to correctly assess your patient’s level of mobility

If your patient can achieve some mobility on their own, it’s recommended that they assist where they can to reduce as much risk as possible. You can assess their level of independence before moving them or assisting with transporting them to a chair or bed. There are four main categories for judging their level of independence.

Mobile: The patient can perform all their daily living activities and are independently mobile – so they don’t need walking aids to get around. 

Partially mobile: they may need to use a walking stick or walking frame to position themselves and walk. 

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. 


Always have the right equipment with the right support

With bariatric patients, all equipment must be able to support the weight and be expertly designed to ensure that the patient is comfortable and safe. There are transit aids that can help you move bariatric patients through your practice to the clinic room to make things much easier and reassuring for your bariatric patients. 

Beds: bariatric patients require beds that have been designed and constructed with suitable reinforcement and so can support xxxx. The bed must have plenty of space for the patient to be safely moved and repositioned during their care. Adjustability is a must for any hospital bed and for bariatric patients, it’s essential. Removable hand-rails and supports make things much easier for staff to transfer the patient from a chair to the bed, using hoists and assisting equipment if required. 

Chairs: Whether a bench, static chair or treatment chair, bariatric patients require specific requirements for full support. At Design Specific, we specialise in creating chairs for clinical use that meet all the design requirements so that bariatric and special needs patients can require their treatment in comfort. 

Chairs will need extra functionality for patients with mobility issues, such as a riser recliner function and tilt-in functions so they can be easily moved in and out with extra assistance. Chairs also need good arm support and factor in ergonomics for specific body shapes. 

Platforms for wheelchairs: to save the need of transferring a patient from their wheelchair into a reclining treatment chair, platforms are available. These are built into the floor and can allow dentists in particular to carry out treatment without moving the patient unnecessarily. 

Find out more here

Transport chairs: for bariatric patients that need to be moved in the hospital or clinic, transport chairs are designed for patient comfort in mind while being moved safely. 

Find out more here

Walking aids: Bariatric patients will often have their own walking aids if they need them. However, we recommend that you always have bars and turn assists available for patients who have partial mobility. 


Receive the right training to reduce injury and risk

It’s important that all your staff have the right training to safely move bariatric patients in your clinic. There are courses available that provide the right training, including how to properly use body mechanics to avoid injury, how to position yourself when taking on a patient’s weight, how to communicate with bariatric patients and how to understand their specific needs. 


How to make your clinic safe for bariatric patients

Moving plus-size patients requires having the right equipment ready at the right time. If your clinic or practice needs an overhaul for equipment that is suitable for bariatric patients, we can assist. We can help assess your space and offer the appropriate equipment that you need to move bariatric patients from the entrance of your practice to the waiting room or even ensure they are comfortable while having the treatment that they need.

If you are in need of equipment designed for bariatric patients, we can arrange for a site visit to ascertain your particular needs and provide solutions suited to your space. Our team at Design Specific are experienced in the specific requirements necessary for ensuring the safety of both the clinical staff and the patient when taking care of bariatric patients. 

The best way to trial our Compact Wheelchair Recliners & Bariatric Treatment Chairs is in person. We are at various Dental Shows focussed in Special Care in Dentistry including SCDA (Special Care Dentistry Association) & NNOHA (National Network for Oral Health Access). We can also arrange an inhouse demonstration. 

Speak to our team today and improve the conditions for any bariatric patients who need treatment. To find out more about our chairs, transport aids and wheelchair platforms, you can contact us on +44 (0) 1273 813904 Use our contact form to send any questions you have and we will endeavour to answer.