Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sitting tight

How do you get out of your (moulded/matrix) wheelchair (you normally sit in a hook and loop sling) when you go into hospital?  - to get into a bed, to have an x-ray, to go to the toilet?

It's a lot harder than you might think.  It hasn't got any easier over the last few years despite being raised innumerable times with the hospital(s) in question.  And it's roots go back to the early days of the private sector getting its hooks into the NHS.

Let me tell you a story.  Once upon a time in a land not a million miles from here, many years ago, a clever hoist manufacturer did a clever marketing deal with its national health service.  The deal was that the hoist manufacturer would provide free portable hoists, in return for exclusivity in hospitals and the health service would commit to buying only their disposable slings.  Everyone's a winner, the health service doesn't pay for expensive hoists, hoist manufacturer gets a monopoly and a guaranteed income stream for the forseeable future.

Except for the disabled people who live in the community - who have to use hospitals - quite a lot.  Because they are provided with 'hook and loop' hoists and slings in the community that are incompatible with hospital hoists - which incidentally are quite nasty to use if you have a spine that isn't a 'normal' shape (the metal 'hangers' bash you in the face etc.) - and surprise, surprise, lots of disabled people have spinal problems.  Some people also think the hospital hoist's 'button' clipping system isn't safe for these people - I couldn't possibly comment.

Anyway, some, PMLD (profound , multiple learning disabled) people turned up at hospital because they weren't well.  They were all, as normal, sitting in their moulded/matrix wheelchairs, sitting on their slings (which is how they'd been hoisted there as normal).  One needed to get into a hospital bed - but he couldn't because there was no compatible hoist in the hospital - how inconsiderate of him - so he had to stay in his chair.  One needed to go to the toilet - but he couldn't because there was no compatible hoist in the hospital - so he wet himself, nasty man - and he had to stay in his wheelchair.  One needed an x-ray, but because his chair had lots of metal components in the back and there was no compatible hoist in the hospital, he couldn't get it done properly - how difficult of him - so he had to stay in his chair and have a completely unhelpful x-ray.

So the lesson is - each hospital should have at least one 'hook and loop' compatible hoist that can be sent to wherever a very disabled person in the hospital needs it.  This all happened a long time ago, but not very far away, so you'd think everyone had learned the lesson.  Certainly the disabled people and their carers learnt a lesson - avoid having to go to hospital if at all possible.  But the hospital didn't learn any lesson - it just carried on regardless - and it still does.

We wouldn't let this happen here, would we, even if changing it was like pushing water uphill.  In one instance, a disabled person had to sit in one position in his chair for 8 hours.  In one instance, the useless x-ray didn't detect a chest infection.  In one instance, the carers had to sneak in their own portable hoist from home to relieve the disabled person.  This isn't how a caring or compassionate health service operates - but it's how this health service acts, even after repeated complaints.  We will get it changed, but it shouldn't be so hard - and it shouldn't happen here.


  1. Kloop slings are the answer for anyone with the misfortune to be in an area where this is a problem.

    Happily, Central Manchester Foundation Trust now only has hook-and-loop systems throughout!

  2. Good to hear Manchester's got it right. I'm not familiar with the Kloop but will look it up, thanks.