The past few weeks in my patient skills care class we have been using gait belts nonstop, literally. The moment we walk into lab the gait belt is put on until the moment we walk out. Though the belt is kind of uncomfortable, it is very important in patient care!
What it is
A gait belt is a safety belt for the provider to use to help keep their patient safe. It helps in a variety of things whether it’s sitting to standing, transferring from one place to another such as a chair to a bed, or just walking. Gait belts are usually a few inches wide and made from canvas, nylon or leather with a buckle at the end and sometimes loops for holding. There are two main types: a standard design with a metal buckle featuring loops and teeth and a quick release design featuring a plastic buckle that snaps in place.
how to use
A gait belt is labeled an assistive device and sits right on a patients waist or hips with two fingers fitting between the belt and the patient. The belt should be securely fastened where it will not come undone when moving around. There should always be one layer of clothing between the gait belt and the patients skin. When walking or transferring, gait belts provide a safe and secure object to grasp. They also decrease the need to use a patients clothing or extremities since the belt is there.
Before anything, verbally communicate with your patient putting the belt on them and through the transfer process. If you’re lifting the patient, count down to the lift so you both can rise in sync.
when to use
The gait belt is a great choice when working with a patient who has mobility issues and is partially dependent on their caregiver for support. But it is important to remember the gait belt is an assistive device. It is not meant to lift or move a patient outright, but help assist with moving or lifting a patient. If a patient has relatively good mobility, do be cautious when using a gait belt if they are dealing with conditions or had surgery affecting their abdominals and low back area. Caution should also be used if a patient has feeding tubes, a catheter, or other equipment near their abdominal area. If you’re unsure about using a gait belt, talk with the patients lead physician.
Gait belts are great ways to help keep someone safe. They’re easy to use too! Check out a video here on how to put a gait belt on.