Back pain is common among carers. As a carer you may need to move and lift the person you care for and this can place a lot of strain on your back. Nurses and care assistants never lift anyone on their own but most of the time, as a carer, you will have no choice. Even helping someone to dress or move from bed to chair can take its toll on your back.

If you hurt your back it can be very difficult to stop doing the movement that is hurting it and rest. Knowing how to protect your back can help to keep it in good shape.

Arrange a carer’s assessment with Norfolk County Council. This will look at what your caring role involves and whether you do any lifting, handling and moving. The assessment will look at how best to help you do this. They may suggest contacting a voluntary organisation like Carers Matter Norfolk to get some training or advice in how to move the person you care for or they may be able to refer you to access some equipment to help.

Hints & tips for moving someone

  • Allow & encourage the person you care for to help as much as possible.
  • Always tell them what you plan to do. Don’t rush it, leave plenty of time in which to do it.
  • Always wear sensible shoes and comfortable clothes.
  • Make sure the space around you is clear. Before you begin moving, stand in front of the person, as close as possible to them. Place your legs apart and move the person a little at a time rather than in one movement.
  • Try not to lift and twist at the same time. Go round slowly using tiny steps.
  • Bend at the knees and hips. Tense your stomach muscles to take the strain off your back.

You can also find a lot of other information and help online: · NHS Direct has a guide to moving and handling the person you care for. This includes a lifting checklist to help you decide if you should move them. · NHS direct also have produced “Top 10 back care tips”, including lifting advice, how to sit properly and back strengthening exercises. · Marie Curie offer practical advice about day to day caring including moving someone in bed and helping them stand and walk. · Bupa have published a practical guide to prevent back problems which includes some simple exercises.

If you already have back pain

If you are worried about your back talk to your GP. Let them know that you are a carer and what lifting and moving you have to do. Your GP may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs to calm strained muscles. There is no need to be immobile. Very gentle stretching exercises will help your muscles to relax but avoid lifting while your back is in pain. Think about getting some lifting and turning aids to help you. An occupational therapist can advise on what is most appropriate and your GP can refer you.