What is a hoist?

Posted on 10 April 2024 in Patient Hoist Equipment

As a healthcare equipment specialist, many of the places we work in often require the installation of a hoist system.  If you haven’t come across one before, the question of what is a hoist is probably one of the first things that comes to mind.

To help answer that question for you, we’ve put together a quick overview to cover all things hoists, from how they help individuals, the options available and how they operate.

What is a hoist and how does it help?

Essentially, a hoist is a piece of healthcare equipment that supports the transfer of individuals with physical disabilities from one place to another.

Often with manual lifting and handling, there is a large risk of injuries (particularly back injuries) to carers or the person being moved. A hoist system helps eliminate that risk, ensuring safe transfers for both the end user and carer.

There is a common misconception amongst those who are not sufficiently trained or experienced in using a hoist who say they are too time consuming to use. In fact, by receiving the right training and information, using a hoist is actually far quicker and safer than trying to physically lift an individual.

The objective for using manual handling equipment is to ultimately reduce the risk of an injury to the lowest level possible. Have a look at our blog on ‘How to tell if someone needs hoisting’ for more information patient handling equipment and the difference they can make.


Ceiling Hoist Systems

AirRise 200 overhead hoist system


How do I know which hoist is suitable for me?

At first, it can be difficult to know what the most suitable hoist is for an individual, with a number of different considerations to take into account. The key things to look out for revolve around the ability of the individual to be hoisted, the weight of the individual being hoisted and the environment in which the hoisting is to take place.

Once you have those details, it is important to work with an approved hoist supplier and listen to advice from care professionals to help you choose the right hoist specification. They can advise you on which type of system you need for your care requirements and space, as well options such as slings and spreader bars.

To help streamline this process,  read our complete guide on how to choose the right hoist system for you.


Ceiling Hoist Systems


Overhead hoist systems

As the most common type of hoist system, overhead hoists are designed to provide a safe, quick way to transfer and move people around from room to room. Running along permanently fixed tracks, Innova’s AirRise and Airglide360 ceiling lift systems don’t take up any floor space, as they are integrated into the ceiling.

Unlike a mobile hoist, they reduce trip hazards and keep rooms looking tidy. They also have a greater lifting range, which means they are ideal for longer range transfers where patients need to move between rooms, or alternate higher and lower positions.

For care environments such as care homes and hospices, the most common type of layout for tracking is an H-frame system, sometimes called an X-Y system. This consists of three pieces rather than one single rail, involving two parallel fixed rails and one perpendicular moving traverse rail. By opting for this system, individuals and carers can carry out transfers between multiple locations, such  as a bed to a chair or a bed to a wheelchair.

What are ceiling hoists used for?


What is a hoist - AirRise 200 system


One of the other major features is the inclusion of a gate system.

For any transitions between layouts and rooms, a gate system is an essential component connecting the corresponding rails. The Airglide360 Transit Coupling from Innova employs a clever blend of magnets and sensors to ensure a secure connection when moving between systems.

This innovative piece of hoisting equipment simplifies the process of moving patients and clients between different rooms and tracks, putting their safety first as well as enhancing their dignity.

To see how a ceiling track works, check out our training video below:



Bespoke hoist systems

For many people, when they hear the words ‘what is a hoist system’, they usually think of clinical equipment. Luckily, that concept is starting to change thanks to new innovations. Innova’s Integralift is paving the way, which can be folded away into a cupboard or wardrobe.

Not only is it an incredibly subtle piece of patient handling equipment, it is also available in a range of finishes to blend in perfectly with any existing décor. Designed to save caregivers’ time during transfers, the lifter and sling can be kept permanently in place in the cupboard.

Unlike overhead hoist systems, the Integralift does not interfere with ceiling mounted ward curtains.

It also has the benefit of being able to be installed as a bedhead hoist unit, or it can be fitted with wardrobes, bedside cabinets and even foldable beds for the patient’s friends and relatives.

Check out the Integralift in action by watching our case study video below with St Andrew’s Hospice.


How to maintain a hoist system?

By law, any person or company that has and uses patient lifting equipment must carry out a LOLER check every six months. A LOLER inspection (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations) is a safety assessment that is needed for all lifting equipment and accessories used in the UK for work purposes.

The purpose of a LOLER test is to ensure that a hoist is posing no threat to the health and safety of its users, as well as an essential maintenance procedure. Carried out by a qualified and experienced inspector, a LOLER test involves checks for any signs of wear, damage, or other issues that may impact the safety of the equipment.


Hoist moving through doorway


A bit like an MOT for a vehicle, it is illegal to operate patient handling equipment without a current and up-to-date LOLER certificate.

Ceiling Track Hoist Servicing & Maintenance


In this blog we’ve delivered a quick guide to answering the question of what is a hoist. Using examples of Innova’s hoisting solutions and resources, we’ve looked at what they are, where they are needed, the types of hoists available and how they work.

If you’d like more information on hoist systems, email [email protected] to request a copy of our ‘Specifiers Guide To Overhead Hoist Systems’ or send over an enquiry for our team to get back to you.

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