The Best Patient Transfer Belts
Our Best Patient Transfer Belts Guide
A quality gait belt will reduce the risk of patient falls and give caregivers more flexibility when assisting their patients. For older adults, a transfer belt can also provide a sense of security. When choosing a belt, keep the following factors in mind:
Handles can make gripping easier and can make movement less awkward, but they don’t necessarily improve the utility of the gait belt. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) recommends belts with padded handles, as the padding can improve grip and control.
With that said, a standard belt can provide plenty of functionality, particularly when a patient has limited mobility issues. As handled belts are typically more expensive than standard belts, you should carefully consider your needs before making your purchase.
If you decide to purchase a belt with handles or hand loops, check the quality of the stitching. Never trust a handle if the stitching appears loose or frayed.
Most gait belts either use metal clasps or plastic buckles to secure patients. Either option can provide a dependable closure, so your purchasing decision will depend on your personal preference. Metal clasps can often allow for quicker adjustments, while plastic buckles can be released quickly.
Nurses and therapists who work with multiple patients tend to prefer metal clasps, but if you’re on the fence, try both options. Regardless of which you choose, make sure to tuck any excess belt length back into the belt to prevent the fabric from dangling. Many belts have integrated loops to make this easier.
Quality of Materials
Belts are typically made from woven cotton, canvas, or cotton-nylon blends. Evaluating the quality of the materials can be difficult when shopping online. Look for weight ratings to determine whether a product will meet your expectations; most belts support weights of 300-500 pounds.
Regardless of which product you choose, you should carefully inspect patient transfer belts prior to each use. Replace any belt that shows obvious signs of wear. Don’t attempt to repair them, even if the necessary repairs seem fairly straightforward.
When using a patient transfer belt, remember that you’re using a mobility assistance device, “assistance” being the operative word. Never use the belt to move a patient outright. The purpose of a gait belt is to help patients move on their own power, and using a gait belt improperly may result in an injury.
Likewise, you should talk to the patient’s physician before using a gait belt. Belts can interfere with catheters, feeding tubes, and other medical devices, and you’ll need clearance from a physician before using these devices on patients with these apparatuses.
OSHA advises against using a gait belt if a patient is uncooperative or if they do not have strength in their upper extremities. When moving patients, transfer their weight to their strongest side using a rocking-and-pulling motion (as opposed to a lifting motion). Make sure that the belt is fastened securely and always keep a layer of clothing between the belt and the patient’s skin. Keep your back straight and stay close to the patient during movement.
Remember, while patient transfer belts are exceptionally useful devices, they require proper care and usage. If you haven’t received training, ask a nurse, therapist, or physician for guidance.