The Differences Between Manual Handling and Patient Handling – Train the Trainer Courses

Increasingly, employers are sending members of staff on train the trainer courses that focus on either manual handling or patient handling methods. These courses are growing in popularity as they allow businesses to have their very own top quality instructors after just a few days training, who can in turn train others, saving the need to bring in an expensive outside instructor every year or so.

But different businesses require different training and instructors. In industries where people deal with patients – such as those involved in healthcare or social care – some employers are sending staff on manual handling train the trainer courses. Many believe this is adequate training for patient handling. This is not the case. For many reasons, both legal and practical, when involved with patient handling, it is important that potential trainers enrol on a patient handing instructor training course.

The reasons for doing so are very important:


Believe it or not, a person is more important than an inanimate object. People have legislation such as the Human Rights Act which protects them from being treated a certain way and many levels of case law to fall back on. Only on a first class patient handing instructor training course will the participant be taught about this and be warned of the consequences of ignoring their duty of care. Drop a box and something may smash. Hold a patient incorrectly and the repercussions are much more severe.

Technique and Equipment

Moving a heavy box is different to moving a person. For starters, a patient could be sitting in a chair, laying on a bed or sitting in a bath. Different equipment to help move the patient is also regularly used. Knowing the correct way and how to effectively use the relevant equipment is an important aspect of patient handing instructor training courses – this will not be taught on a manual handling course.

Risk Assessments

Performing a risk assessment on a person is very different to that of a box or heavy object. All people weigh different amounts, can be small or tall and can communicate. Often the work environment differs greatly to those involved in manual handling. The variables in patient handling can be extreme. Understanding and evaluating these variables is always an important aspect of patient handling instructor training.

Due to these factors, patient handling instructor training usually lasts for around 4 days, compared to manual handling training which can be completed in as little as 2 days. While some of the same ground will be covered in both, if you are involved in patient handling you must realise that only a patient handling instructor training course will cut it in the long run. Both courses are very valuable – but only choose the course that is relevant to the job you perform.

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