Posted September 12, 2022
  • | Safe Patient Handling

All Hands on Deck

Manual Patient Positioning, Happy Staff, and the Power of Human Touch

Countless studies across industries have touted the benefits of human interaction, connection, and touch.

It’s why newborns are placed immediately with their mothers, if possible. And it’s why shaking hands is customary upon first meeting. It’s what makes us human. But with technology bursting in, large and in charge, what is happening to human touch? 

In the healthcare industry, new advancements in patient care hit the scene at the speed of light, saving lives, time, and money. But there is a fine line between the benefits of technology and the drawbacks. 

A 2020 study looking at modern technology versus humanity shed light on the true value of human touch. Study participants indicated that loud noise disruptions associated with technology contributed to their anxiety and fear. Without personal contact from the nurses, patients felt detached from their own care plans, potentially slowing down the healing process. Care without compassion dehumanizes the patient experience. 

So, what does human touch have to do with patient repositioning? 

Plenty! Patients with limited mobility are most likely also at risk for pressure injury formation. Turning and repositioning is critical for desirable outcomes. But the actual process of turning can be scary, particularly to patients who can’t assist with the process. Beds that auto-boost, turn, and reposition lack one important factor: reassurance. Manually turning patients achieves the same goal — repositioning — but provides that added sense of security that technology lacks. A gentle touch is sometimes all it takes to ease anxiety and reduce pain. 

But are manual turns really the best options for patients?

Possibly! In a recent study, turn angles and pressure redistribution on two turn-assisted surfaces were measured against manual turns. In the area of turn angles, results found that manual turns produced angles closer to 30° than turns facilitated by the two surfaces. In the area of repeatability, manual turns were more effectively and consistently repeated than turns completed on assisted surfaces. Good outcomes plus human interaction equaled success. Manual turns for the win. 

But what about the caregiver? Jeopardizing a patient’s quality of care is not a viable option, but harming the caregiver in the process isn’t either—technology to the rescue. 

Wait, what?

Technology certainly isn’t a dirty word in healthcare. The industry couldn’t advance without new ideas. But it doesn’t have to be complicated, particularly in patient positioning. 

Manual patient turning and repositioning systems exist specifically to help the caregiver reposition patients. Friction-reducing glide sheets and wedges replace drawsheets and sore backs. Patients receive the care they need, caregivers reduce their chances for injuries, and human interaction remains intact. Technology is a great tool to help deliver good health care, but it’ll never replace the nurse-to-patient relationship. Click here to explore options for safe and effective manual patient turning systems that uphold the power of touch.

Aleksandra R. Budarick, Christopher Moore & Steven L. Fischer (2020) Evaluating patient turn effectiveness using turn-assist technologies, Journal of Medical Engineering & Technology, 44:1, 1-11, DOI: 10.1080/03091902.2019.1707889

Arcega, J., De Guzman, B., Isidienu, L., O’Neal, M., (2020) The Human Touch. Is Modern Technology Decreasing the Value of Humanity in Patient Care? Wolters Kluwer Health.