A qualitative exploration of community therapists' experiences of applying guidance on safe patient handling

  • Hannah Wade

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Science by Research


Aim of the study: To explore the experiences of physiotherapists and occupational therapists in implementing guidance on safe manual handling practice; and how the guidance is applied in community settings.

Background: Manual handling injuries remain prevalent in the healthcare setting. With government policy moving towards interventions in the community, care and rehabilitation are more frequently provided in the home environment. Therapists are therefore carrying out an increasing number of manual handling manoeuvres and therapy interventions in variable community settings. Manual handling training is provided to employees in controlled environments with standardised methods, which do not necessarily match the environments found in practice with a result that methods have to be adapted accordingly.

Methods: A qualitative ethnographic approach informed data collection and analysis. Participant observations of community visits followed by semi-structured interviews were completed with three physiotherapists and three occupational therapists working within community rehabilitation teams.

Findings: Four main themes were derived from the data: ‘Environmental Impact’, ‘Equipment Provision and Funding’, ‘Patient Choice and Family Influence’ and ‘Training, Experience and Therapeutic Handling’. Environmental challenges and benefits of working in a community setting were acknowledged by participants and impacted on both manual handling and therapeutic intervention. The patient’s choice and family influence were important considerations. Participants reported that current training in moving and handling was too basic and was not always relevant to the community setting. Participants identified that manual handling was often integrated with therapeutic handling.

Conclusion: Manual handling is a complex task in a community setting and there was difficulty implementing guidance received from training. Educational programmes using problem-solving approaches may therefore be more beneficial for therapists in a community setting to support more effective application of safe manual handling guidance.
Date of Award2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University
SupervisorRosie Kneafsey (Supervisor) & Chris Carpenter (Supervisor)

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