Qualitative analysis of a ward-based risk assessment manual handling program

Ms Helen Kugler1,2, Dr Susan Slade2,3, Professor Nicholas Taylor2,4, Dr Natasha Brusco1,2

1Centre for Allied Health Research and Education, Cabrini, Malvern, Australia, 2La Trobe Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine Research, School of Allied Health, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Australia, 3Department of Physiotherapy, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, 4Allied Health Clinical Research Office, Eastern Health, Box Hill, Australia


To explore the experiences of ward-based staff who had completed manual handling training and their perceptions of the program.

Staff (n=72) across two pilot wards participated in a full-day manual handling education program led by allied health as a part of local mandatory training. Training included two components, Manual Handling Fundamentals and Risk Assessment for Moving Patients (RAMP). The experiences of participant were explored in focus groups 4 months after training. Participants were recruited through purposive sampling and qualitative methods were used to conduct thematic analysis of the data.

Ten staff participated in the two focus groups. Participants reported they had implemented some of the skills taught in the manual handling training. Three key themes emerged from the data: (1) Manual handling is in everything we do; (2) Individual empowerment and confidence were perceived to result from the RAMP training program; (3) There are factors that influenced the successful implementation of the training program. Visual prompts, refresher training and consistent training of staff across departments were seen as facilitators to implementation while staffing levels, the hospital environmental and provision of equipment were identified as barriers.

Significance of the findings to allied health:
Manual handling is central to the work of ward-based staff. Allied health manual handling training helped participants to feel empowered in helping patients move. However, there are factors to take into account if manual handling training is to be implemented throughout the health service.


Helen is a senior physiotherapist working at Cabrini rehabilitation who is currently undertaking further study at La Trobe University. Helen’s interest is neurological physiotherapy and she is passionate about the key role that ward-based staff play in a patient’s rehabilitation from the onset of their admission.