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Making patient transfers comfortable and safe for both the patient as well as the caregiver is essential. Manually moving a patient with limited mobility from one place to another can not only put immense strain on the carer, but it can also be extremely dangerous and it could pose a serious risk of injury.
Fortunately, a patient lift can provide a safe and easy alternative which can make difficult patient transfers a thing of the past. There are some static patient lifts that are ideal for permanent use in one location but if you require something more short-term or a device that can be used wherever you go, then a mobile lift is an excellent option.
In this article, we are going to be exploring the benefits of a patient lift and how they work as well as discovering some of the crucial things that you should look for when selecting a mobile patient lift. We will also be exploring some of the best hydraulic and battery-powered lifts that can be used throughout the home for easier and safer patient transfers.
Portable Patient Lifts Comparison Chart
Medline MDS88200D Hydraulic Lift
Invacare Reliant Plus 450 Power Lift
Drive Medical 13244 Bariatric Electric Lift
Bestlift PL400EF Foldable Lift
Genesis 400 Powered Lift by Bestcare
28" to 73"
24" to 74"
32" to 75.5"
27.4" to 67.2"
28" to 68"
Base Width Open
Base Width Closed
4" (front & rear)
3" (front), 5" (rear)
3" (front), 4" (rear)
3" (front), 4" (rear)
3" (front), 4" (rear)
Spreader Bar Type
What is a Patient Lift?
A patient lift is a type of passive device, this means that the patient will be lifted without having to exert any of their own physical strength. For this reason, a mobile lift is ideal for patients who have extremely limited mobility and are unable to bear any of their own weight.
A mobile lift is one of two main types of lift, the other being a fitted lift, which is used to lift a patient with mobility issues and move them to another location. For example, from the bed to the chair, or bathroom.
These devices can be operated through a manual lever or can come with batteries for easier lifting, this is especially useful for caregivers who do not have adequate strength to manually raise the lift.
Mobile lifts are an independent unit that feature an arm for lifting on a movable stand. For this reason, they are great for use in a care home setting where multiple patients may require lifting or for private use where a lift is required in more than one room.
Who is a Patient Lift Suitable for?
Primarily, mobile patient lifts are designed to aid people who are not able to maneuver themselves from one place to another, nor are they able to bear any of their own weight, and so cannot take advantage of an active device such as a sit to stand lift. The weight of the patient is completely supported by the sling and the lift, making transfers for those with very limited mobility easy and safe.
These lifts are also a viable option for anyone who requires constant care in more than one given location. Unlike a fixed lift which remains, for example, over the bed, these devices can be easily moved around the home or can be taken apart and used whilst traveling.
Benefits of a Patient Hoist Lift
The most obvious benefit of a mobile patient lift is that it enables the user to freely move about their home or anywhere else with very little limitation. However, there are many other benefits to using this type of equipment.
A mobile lift is much safer than attempting to manually transfer a patient. They can prevent serious accidents and injury, and thanks to their ergonomic and secure design, will safely and comfortably transfer a patient without putting a strain on them or their caregiver.
Furthermore, these advantageous devices are very portable and so do not restrict where the patient can be transferred, unlike their overhead, fitted counterparts. This also means that patients are given much more freedom to travel and go out and about without any worry.
Additionally, since these lifts are largely compact and agile, they can be used for a variety of applications such as bathing, toileting, and moving from the bed to a chair, they are even suitable for getting patients in and out of vehicles.
If a mobility aid is required for the short term or in a space where fitted options are not permitted, a mobile lift is a great alternative since there is no installation required.
How to Use a Hoyer Lift?
When using a patient lift it is imperative that you are fully aware of how to operate the equipment. Whilst these devices are much safer than manual transfers, using them correctly will ensure optimal safety.
Before you begin using the lift, a risk assessment is essential to avoid any unnecessary injuries. Once this is complete, you should approach the patient – in this example, we will assume that they are lying on the bed.
First of all, ensure that the patient is comfortably rolled over onto their side, this will allow you to position the sling. It is important that you use a compatible sling that is designed to work with the lift and that matches the weight of the patient. Position the sling around the back of the patient and take the shoulder strap nearest to the bed and feed this underneath the head – you will adjust this properly later.
Now, you should roll the patient back onto their back before turning them onto their other side. Doing this will allow you to position the sling from the other side to ensure it is comfortably and safely in place. They can now be moved onto their back once more.
Bring the leg straps around the legs and secure these as necessary. You are now ready to bring in the lift.
One of the most important things you should do before attaching the sling to the lift is to ensure that the legs of the lift are fully open – this allows for greater stability. The hooks can then be lined up above the patient’s chest – be sure to lower it down so that it is just above, but not touching their body.
You are now ready to hook the straps to the lift being careful to do this securely. Once they are attached, raise the lift so that a good amount of tension is in the straps – pause for a moment to double-check the safe attachments of the straps and to adjust the sling so that the patient is comfortable. You should pay particular attention to the leg section and make sure that the patient’s skin is not being pinched.
Once you are satisfied that everything is to the expected standard, you are ready to fully raise the lift so that it clears the bed by a couple of inches.
As you move the lift, you should do so using the weight transfer method. Begin with your weight in your back foot and bring the front foot backward as you pull the lift along. Move the device to where you need it to be and put it into position.
As you lower the patient down into the chair, be sure to shield their head so that it does not come into contact with the lift arm. Once the arm is lowered down, you can disconnect the straps and move the lift back. The sling can then be removed from underneath the patient by lifting the hips slightly to the side and pulling the sling free.
Types of Patient Lifts
In the main, there are three types of mobile lift- a manual lift, a powered lift, and one that is designed for heavy-duty use. When looking to find the right lift for the patient, one of the first things you should consider is which type of mobile lift will work best for both the patient and the caregiver.
Manual Patient Lift
Manual lifts are hydraulically powered and are usually the less expensive option. However, it is worth considering that these types of mobile lifts do require an amount of physical exertion from the caregiver so it is important to factor in their abilities when making a decision.
A manual lift is operated using a hand pump which can raise and lower the arm but even in carers who have a good amount of physical strength, there is a risk of repetitive strain if continual use is required.
Powered Patient Lift
Powered mobile lifts come with a choice of power options, they are either connected to the mains power or can be powered using a rechargeable battery. This eliminates the need for the carer to exert any strength or stamina when using the lift – they are operated using a remote or hand-held control.
A powered mobile lift will tend to be a pricier option but there are many advantages especially for people who may require long-term treatment or care.
Heavy Duty Patient Lift
For larger patients, a regular mobile lift may not be sufficient and a serious risk of injury is posed. However, there is a wide range of heavy-duty mobile patient lifts that are designed for use with bariatric patients. Some of these lifts have a much more generous weight capacity of, on average 600 lbs.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Patient Lift
In order to be sure that you are choosing a mobile lift that will meet your needs and will be optimal in terms of comfort and safety, it is important to consider a variety of factors. Since there are so many features that can be customized to suit the needs of every patient, what works well for one person may not work as well for another.
Manual or Powered Lift?
As we have already discussed, there are two options for power when it comes to a mobile patient lift – manual or powered. A manual option could be preferable if the lift does not need to be used frequently since this is a more affordable option. However, the needs of the carer should be made a priority since a manual lift will require them to physically exert themselves to a certain degree.
A powered lift will provide greater ease for the caregiver but these are slightly more expensive options. When selecting a powered lift, it is also important to think about the type of power you will use – battery or mains. Battery-powered lifts are great for rooms where a connection to the mains is not always possible but it is important to ensure that they are kept charged since if the power was to run out in the middle of a transfer, this could be extremely difficult for the carer and distressing for the patient.
Lift Weight Capacity
Using a mobile patient lift whose weight capacity does not match the needs of the patient can be extremely dangerous. Most standard mobile patient lifts will have an operating capacity of around 275-400 lbs although this will vary depending on the manufacturer.
In order to ensure the most safe and effective use of the lift, you should check the weight capacity before using. Furthermore, if you are working with a larger patient, it may be beneficial to invest in a bariatric or heavy-duty lift which will provide a higher weight capacity, greater stability and most importantly, the best level of safety.
Capabilities of the Patient
One of the main reasons that people opt for a mobile lift is to allow the patient to be transferred whilst being fully supported by the lift. It pays to think about the individual needs and capabilities of the patient since these lifts are designed for use by people who are unable to take any of their own weight.
If the patient does have some weight-bearing ability, then it may be more beneficial to consider a sit to stand lift.
You should also think about how and why the patient needs the lift. For example, if they need a lift for helping them into the bath or for using the toilet – a powered option may not be safe for use around water. Other environmental factors to consider might be how frequently the patient needs to travel and whether the lift is compatible with these needs.
Furthermore, the needs of the caregiver should also be taken into account since easy operation is vital in further ensuring the safety of both the carer and the patient.
The height range to which the lift can be raised will vary both by manufacturer and model but the patient’s needs will determine a suitable lift range so it is important to factor this in when looking at various models.
For example, for patients who are taller, a greater lifting range may be needed. Moreover, if you are working with a bed whose height cannot be altered, this will also impact the requirements of the lift.
Some patient lifts have the ability to lift a person from the floor, in this case, there will clearly be a more generous lifting range. This is certainly something to consider if the patient is susceptible to falls and will require assistance in getting up.
There is very little point in using a lift in a space where it cannot be properly operated. For this reason, you should look for models that will work well in your space. There are many size options so you won’t be limited in finding a more compact lift should this be necessary.
However, whilst size is one thing, maneuverability is another and choosing a lightweight lift can greatly aid in both the transfer process and when moving the lift from one location to another. Having a lift such as this will also make taking it away whilst traveling much more simple.
Whilst larger wheels may increase the height of the chassis which can make moving the lift closer to the patient a little more challenging, they do have a benefit. Using a lift with larger wheels will enable you to maneuver the device more easily on uneven floors or surfaces that are not as smooth such as carpet.
It is important to think about which option will most closely meet your needs to ensure that your experience with using the lift is the best it can be.
Most mobile patient lifts come with a 2 point spreader bar, although there is often the choice to upgrade to a 4 point spreader bar. This is ideal if you are using the lift with larger patients thanks to its improved lifting ability and durability.
However, it is important to keep in mind that a 4 point spreader bar will also put the patient in a more upright position which is something to consider if you are working with someone whose balance is not as good.
Best Portable Patient Lifts
1. Medline MDS88200D Hydraulic Patient Lift
The Medline MDS88200D hydraulic patient lift is a good choice if you’re looking for a more economical option to assist non-weight bearing patients with transfers around the home.
Despite it being a manual lift, it is easy to use and operate. The hydraulic hand pump requires limited force to operate, thus helping to reduce the caregiver’s workload.
The hydraulic lift has an impressive lifting range. It can extend from 28 up to 73 inches. The extended reach makes the lift extremely versatile. It is capable of performing floor lifts as well as carrying out other types of lifts such as bed, wheelchair, or toilet transfers.
While it may be the cheapest patient lift we have reviewed, it certainly does not skimp on quality. The lift features a 6-point cradle that can rotate 360 degrees, which are more commonly found on premium lifts. This means the lift can accommodate most slings including 2-point, 4-point and 6-point slings. The Medline lift also comes with a complimentary full-body sling which is another bonus. The durable frame has a good weight capacity of up to 400 lbs, and for added safety the rear casters are lockable.
Weighing just 80.5 lbs, the lift is relatively lightweight. Due to the 4″ front and rear casters, it can easily be manoeuvred over most type of surfaces. The lift’s base is relatively narrow and measures just 31.5″, so it can conveniently be used in more confined areas if needed.
The width of the base is also adjustable. If you need to manoeuvre it through a narrow doorway, or you want to position it around the patient’s wheelchair or you need it to fit around the toilet, this can be easily accomplished by using the simple to operate hand lever.
- Weight capacity: 400 lbs
- Lifting range: 28″ to 73″
- Base width: 31.5″ (open), 26″ (closed)
- Base length & height: 42″, 5.5″
- Product weight: 80.5 lbs
- Spreader bar type: 6-point
- Lift type: Manual
2. Invacare Reliant Plus 450 Power Patient Lift
With its extended lifting range, exceptional build quality, and 450 lbs weight capacity, this powered patient lift from Invacare is a great all-rounder.
The lifting range of this patient lift certainly sets it apart from some of its rivals. It can extend as low as 24″, and it can go as high as 74″. So whether you need to perform a floor lift, or you need to carry out a bed to wheelchair transfer, or even a toilet transfer, you can be assured that this lift will be able to cope with most transfers. The 4.5″ height base also ensures it can comfortably fit underneath most types of beds and furniture, allowing the lift to be positioned as close as possible to the patient for safer lifts.
As the Invacare Reliant Plus 450 lift is battery-powered, it is extremely easy to operate and requires minimal physical effort to use. The caregiver can control the lift using the simple to use ergonomically designed hand control. The lift is powered by a 24-volt battery. It also comes with a back-up battery, allowing you to have a fully charged spare battery available at all times. In the event that the lift does lose power, there is an emergency manual lowering feature that can be activated.
The u-shaped base can be opened or closed manually using the long reach padded shifter handle, which avoids the need to bend down. Once the base of the lift has been opened to the required width, it can be securely locked to maximize safety and stability.
The lift uses a 6-point spreader bar that helps to spread the sling out, to provide a more comfortable transfer. The spreader bar rotates 360 degrees. This makes complex transfers easier and safer. It is also padded to prevent it from pinching the patient during lifts.
- Weight capacity: 450 lbs
- Lifting range: 24″ to 74″
- Base width: 41″ (open), 26.5″ (closed)
- Base length & height: 48″, 4.5″
- Product weight: 106 lbs
- Spreader bar type: 6-point
- Lift type: Battery-powered
3. Drive Medical 13244 Bariatric Electric Patient Lift
For heavier patient transfers, the Drive Medical 13244 electric patient lift is a good option to consider. This bariatric model has a weight capacity of up to 600 pounds. Due to its maximum boom height of 75.5 inches, it can carry out higher lift transfers, as well as being able to perform floor lifts.
The width of the base can be adjusted manually using the easy to operate padded shifter handle. At its full width, the base measures 45.7″. This can however be adjusted to suit the particular type of transfer, as well as the available floor space. When closed, it measures just 25″ wide, so it can easily be maneuvered through any narrow doorways or corridors.
The bariatric lift uses a 4-point spreader bar that is fitted on an extra-wide swivel bar that rotates 360 degrees. This ensures that even the most challenging transfer can be conducted safely, and this also assists with patient repositioning. For added safety, the lift has an emergency button so that the lift can be operated manually when lowering the patient.
The battery-operated lift is simple to charge. There is no need to remove the battery, instead you can connect the power cord to the control box, and you then connect it to the power outlet. Charging the lift doesn’t take long, which helps to reduce any downtime. It takes approximately 4 hours to charge the lift from 50% to full capacity.
- Weight capacity: 600 lbs
- Lifting range: 32″ to 75.5″
- Base width: 45.7″ (open), 25″ (closed)
- Base length & height: 45.75″, 4.2″
- Product weight: 132 lbs
- Spreader bar type: 4-point
- Lift type: Battery-powered
4. Bestlift PL400EF Foldable Patient Lift
The BestLift PL400EF is ideal if you’re looking for a powered patient lift that is easily portable, and one that you can conveniently take with you when traveling or when visiting friends or family.
The lift is foldable, and it can be folded quickly and easily in 3 simple to perform steps without requiring any tools. When folded, it measures just 25.8″ wide, 41.6″ long, and 14″ high so it can comfortably fit into the trunk of a car, or it can be stored in a closet or under a bed when it is not in use.
Despite its compact size, it is a full-body lift, and it has a 400-pound lifting capacity. It has a lifting range of 28″ to 68″ allowing you to carry out floor lifts, wheelchair to bed lifts, toileting lifts, as well as other seated surface transfers. The low base (4.5″) ensures that it can comfortably fit underneath a low bed or under a piece of furniture, for easier and safer patient transfers.
The lift uses a 2-point spreader bar, which is compatible with most 2-point, 4-point, and 6-point slings. The base can be opened or closed using a foot pedal, avoiding the need to bend down. When fully opened, the base measures 35.5″ wide. The width of the base can however be adjusted to fit around the patient’s wheelchair, commode, or seat as needed.
The battery-operated lift uses a 24V DC rechargeable battery. An LCD shows the remaining charge left. When it is running low, an audible alarm will sound to remind you to recharge the lift. If the lift malfunctions or it runs out of power, the lift can still be operated manually. It also has a stop button, allowing it to be halted in case of an emergency. To ensure patient lifts are carried out safely, the rear casters are lockable.
- Weight capacity: 400 lbs
- Lifting range: 27.4″ to 67.2″
- Base width: 37.7″ (open), 25.8″ (closed)
- Base length & height: 41.6″, 4.5″
- Product weight: 83 lbs
- Spreader bar type: 2-point
- Lift type: Battery-powered
>> See full Bestlift PL400EF foldable patient lift review
5. Genesis 400 Powered LE Patient Lift by Bestcare
If you’re looking for a powered lift, but you’re on a budget, the Genesis 400 LE lift by Bestcare is one you may want to consider.
The affordable powered lift certainly does not compromise on quality. It’s well built, and it has many extras that you would expect from a pricier model. It also includes a sling. The lift is sturdy, and it has a weight capacity of up to 400 lbs, making it suitable for most users. If the lift’s weight capacity is exceeded, it will emit three long warning beeps.
The lift range extends from 28″ to 68″ so it can comfortably perform a range of patient transfers. Due to its compact size and lightweight nature, it can be used in confined spaces, so if you are looking for a lift to assist with toileting or wheelchair transfers, this one could be perfect for your needs. The lift’s base can be opened using the easy to use foot pedal, and due to its lower base, it should fit under most types of beds.
Comfortable and safe patient transfers are assured with this patient lift. It uses a 6-point spreader bar, which makes it compatible with most types of slings. Using the lift is a breeze. The lift mechanism can be operated using the easy to use handset.
The lift comes with several safety features. There’s an emergency lowering feature that allows the lift to be operated even if it loses power, which allows the caregiver to lower the patient if they are suspended. The rear casters are also lockable, which assists in keeping the lift stationary, and stable during lifts.
- Weight capacity: 400 lbs
- Lifting range: 28″ to 68″
- Base width: 35.5″ (open), 26″ (closed)
- Base length & height: 41″, 4.5″
- Product weight: 75 lbs
- Spreader bar type: 6-point
- Lift type: Battery-powered
Frequently Asked Questions
A mobile patient lift is a great choice of patient transfer aid which can help carers to eliminate the stress and strain of a manual transfer.
These devices can be moved from room to room and so are often the preferred choice over a fitted patient lift. They offer flexibility and versatility giving patients a comfortable way to move from one position or place to another.
However, since the needs of limited mobility patients vary so greatly, mobile lifts also come in a variety of shapes, sizes and forms. For this reason, it is essential that you carefully weigh up your options before making a final decision on the best patient lift for your particular needs.