How Do You Use a Hoyer Lift?

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A Hoyer lift is used to lift and move a patient with a minimal amount of effort from an assistant or helper.The Hoyer lift can be manually or battery operated as it lifts the patient up from a chair or bed. A large sling is used to allow the patient to rest comfortably and safely while he is being moved or transferred. The Hoyer lift is popular among the elderly, bed ridden individuals and those who are unable to get around on their own.

Understand the mechanisms of the Hoyer lift machine before operation. For a manual lift, get a feel for the hydraulic control valve and how fast it raises and lowers once it is released for raising or lowering the patient. For a battery operated Hoyer lift, make sure that all of the buttons work properly for lifting and lowering. Discuss briefly with the patient what to expect and how the lift works. Be sure that the patient weighs less than the maximum capacity of the lift--which is generally between 400 and 600 lbs.--otherwise the sling and straps could break.

Prepare the patient for the lift. Make sure that he is unwrapped from blankets and sheets and has no loose-fitting clothing that could get in the way of the lifting process. Remind the patient to hold still during the transfer process.

Attach the sling to the body of the patient. Hoyer lift slings are U-shaped. The patient should carefully be rolled onto the side. The U-sling should be folded in half for ease of use. The sling can then be placed underneath the patient. The front loops of the sling should be crossed behind the patient's legs for added support and brought to the front. The back loops will come up above the neck and behind the patient for rear attachment to the lift. The sling should then be adjusted accordingly and line up so that the buttocks are in the middle of the sling.

Move the Hoyer lift to the bed or area where the patient is sitting or lying. Move the base underneath the bed or directly under the patient as close as possible to provide stability and even weight distribution. Lock the wheels in place at the bottom of the lift. The sling is then attached to the cradle of the Hoyer lift with the straps from the front rising between the patient’s legs and the back, behind the head attaching to the top of the lift.

Proceed to raise the lift by using the hand lever or the battery operated “up” button. Once the patient has been lifted high enough that his legs and buttocks clear the bed, the lift can then transport the patient. Unlock the wheels and proceed to move the patient to the desired location.

Push the Hoyer lift steadily by guiding the lift slowly by the top (boom) and the side (mast). If the patient is large or heavy, an additional helper may be necessary to cradle the patient or assist with moving. To release the patient from the lift, follow the same directions except in reverse.


Do not leave a patient in the Hoyer lift except for when transferring. Extended lengths of time in the Hoyer Lift may cause skin tears or abrasion.

Never let go of the lift while a patient is in it. In the case of a sudden weight shift or instability, the patient and the lift could tip over.

Follow the exact directions for sling positioning. Failure to do so could lead to accidentally choking the patient or having him slip out of the sling.