What actually is a stand aid?
Simply put, a stand aid – also known as a standing hoist – is an assistive device designed to provide support and assistance to people who are having difficulty getting up into a standing position. A stand aid is used primarily by persons with disabilities – or, indeed, persons who have otherwise limited mobility, such as the elderly – that have lost balance or strength to stand independently. However, in order to be able to use a stand aid, it’s important that the user has the ability to support their own body weight using their legs with supportive assistance.
The stand aid has revolutionised the way in which care professionals can serve and help persons with limited mobility by allowing them to lift users with minimal strain. It has, therefore, become the preferred method by many care professionals to help their users with limited mobility attain various positions safely and with dignity.
Stand aids come in different forms, namely mechanised and non-mechanised.
- Non-mechanised stand aids require a person to be able to pull themselves up into a standing position. The stand aid provides no mechanical assistance with the transfer but offers leverage and negates the need to physically turn (whether 90 or 180 degrees) from one position to the next. Some of these stand aids come with straps to keep the person’s hips in extension to aid standing, and some have paddles that drop down behind the person in order that they can sit whilst being transferred.
- Mechanised stand aids can be very effective if a person can weight bear for a short period, but is unable to pull themselves up into a standing position. Slings enable a person to maintain a standing position whilst the transfer or functional task is completed.
Why use a mechanised stand aid?
As stated above, stand aids are a great resource to aid care professionals in treating people who have become deconditioned after prolonged illness. People may have been weight bearing and able to transfer themselves independently before illness, however, after a long period of ill health, they may find themselves struggling to do so again. The use of a mechanised stand aids enables the professional to safely assess the person’s ability and grade the desired activity, getting the person used to the feeling of standing again, at the same time instilling a sense of support and increased confidence.
Maintaining standing ability
Stand aids can also be used to maintain a person’s ability to stand if they are struggling to stand with the assistance of two people or are unable to pull themselves up with the help of a non-mechanised stand aid. In these circumstances, the stand aid is potentially an ideal solution for this purpose and can be used in nursing and residential care settings, as well as in domestic home environments alongside a risk assessment and handling plan. The Invacare ISA Compact variant offers a lightweight option with a short footprint which would lend itself perfectly to a confined space home environment. Easy operating functions, battery charging and easy to clean surfaces make this the ideal option for the residential care environment.
Things to consider when choosing a Stand aid?
1- Weight limit
The number of plus sized patients is growing so the weight limit of stand aids has never been so important. The Invacare ISA XPLUS variant has a weight limit of 200 kilograms, which is almost 31 and a half stone. This gives health care providers more flexibility with the types of patients a stand aid can be used with.
2- Smooth and quiet movement
Many stand aids are noisy, and their operation may produce uncomfortably sudden, jerky movements. This can make a person with a disability or an elderly patient already lacking confidence quite reluctant to use the stand aid and therefore affecting their rehabilitation. The Invacare ISA mechanism is designed in a way that reduces noise and supports very smooth start and stop movement.
3- Risk assessment of the person
If you’re a care professional or a family member, you must first assess the person you intend to use the stand aid with – a pivotal factor of your risk assessment of the usage of a stand aid is whether they are able to bear their own weight once standing. I always recommend trialing a stand aid with your patient or loved one first; see how they tolerate the process. If you are in a nursing or residential care setting, I would recommend getting an Occupational Therapy or Physiotherapy assessment.
Also consider the person’s weight and whether they are within the equipment’s safe working limit.
4- Risk assessment of the environment
One of the easily overlooked, but still crucially important questions is where do you intend to use the stand aid?
This is critical not just because stand aids vary in length, weight, chair clearance and therefore impact on functional gains, but also because properly considering floor surfaces and turning circles ensures no one will be put at risk while using a standing aid.
Finally, when deliberating the environment in which you plan on using the stand aid, never forget to ask yourself if there is room for carer support when using the aid.
5- Carer training
Competence of handlers is extremely important, as some carers may not be familiar with a stand aid and may need extra training.
Overall, stand aids provide a good option to support rehabilitation and maintenance of someone’s standing ability. However, I would always recommend asking for a Physiotherapy or Occupational Therapy assessment to establish its suitability.