Who cares for the carers?

A view from Elizabeth Warren, policy advisor in the HSE’s Health and Social Care Services Unit.

Preventing and reducing musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), sometimes known as MSKs, is one of HSE’s health priorities and part of its new Go Home Healthy campaign. MSDs are particularly important in health and social care. We all know that back pain is an occupational hazard for health care workers – 25% of reportable accidents to HSE for health and social care involve lifting and handling. These injuries add to the high sickness absence rates in this sector which are higher than other industries.

This is bad for the injured employee, but also bad for your business with the resulting loss in expertise, retention issues, cost of replacement staff and training, injury claims etc. Add these costs to your sickness absence costs and they add up to yet another good reason to review how you are preventing moving and handling problems. The benefit will be delivering better patient/service user care as you will have the right people for the right job.

Can you afford to carry on as you are? Put your sickness rates into this calculator and see how much it is costing you:


Here are some better ways to spend that money:

  • Actively manage moving and handling in your workplace; the key is to get the right measures in place with input from your staff and then monitor that the measures are working.
  • Prevent clients/patients/service users having falls in the first place – see RoSPA Stand Up Stay Up campaign.
  • Do you have enough or the right equipment? There are a range of different devices which can be used to move/turn/lift residents/patients in a safe and comfortable way, a win-win for both patients/service users and staff.
  • Check equipment is maintained and examined as required.
  • Provide appropriate training for the equipment that you have and check the effectiveness of that training in real life – checking that staff are moving and handling patients or objects in the right way. RoSPA host a suite of patient handling training courses, primarily aimed at the health and care sector.
  • Give updates talks e.g. Toolbox talks on areas which have caused incidents in your organisation and how to prevent them in the future.
  • Good occupational health provision. In addition, fast track to treatment has been shown to be beneficial.

Make 2018 the year to take a fresh look at how you are preventing MSD injuries and find out what you can do better.



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