Airlift

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  • 2022

Designed By:

  • Fergus Davidson
  • Maneet Singh
  • Maireid Carrigg

Commissioned By:

RMIT (University Studio Project)

Designed In:

Australia

The Airlift is a low cost, pneumatic patient transfer device which aids Healthcare Workers in three key patient movements. Developed in collaboration with WorkSafe, the device is an alternative to traditional slide sheets, and is intended to prevent ageing Healthcare Workers injuring themselves when working unsupported in the community


  • CHALLENGE
  • SOLUTION
  • IMPACT
  • MORE
  • A spike in demand for at-home care, alongside an under-resourced and rapidly ageing workforce is making community healthcare work increasingly dangerous. Our research found that Healthcare Workers were often left to reposition patients individually, which subjects their bodies to high levels of strain. Whilst there is a plethora of devices on the market that aid with patient repositioning, they are often expensive and bulky, or require multiple people to be used safely. The AirLift responds to these shortfalls, by providing an inexpensive means of repositioning patients, which can be used safely by an individual Healthcare Worker of any age.

  • Once tucked underneath the patient, the AirLift can be inflated using a remote-control pump, which fills the inner bladder with air and lifts the patient off the bed. Placing a layer of air between the patient and the bed significantly reduces the force required for repositions. This mitigates the risk of injury, as the device does the heavy lifting, whilst the Healthcare Worker steadies the patient. By folding the device prior to insertion the Healthcare Worker can switch between three key patient movements, and a removable cover can be replaced for hygienic reasons.

  • The AirLift provides a safer solution than the use of slide sheets in patient transfers, benefiting all workers at risk of musculoskeletal injuries, with an emphasis on decreasing the lifting load and correcting risky behaviours for ageing workers. The product benefits healthcare providers and the broader industry by shifting to the one worker model of funding, through promotion of a safe and inexpensive method of patient transfer that can see repeated usage across a variety of clients.

  • The AirLift was designed as part of an RMIT Industrial Design studio, focusing on the ageing workforce. The studio was run in collaboration with the WorkSafe Innovation Centre and was published in January 2022 (ISBN: 978-0-6454642-0-7). The Airlift is inflated using a pump, which locks on to the valve during operation. The pump is controlled using a remote-control clip, which can be attached to the Healthcare Worker’s clothes for hands free use or housed in the top of the pump for charging and transport. The handles around the perimeter of the AirLift remove the need to grab the sheet directly, addressing dexterity issues ageing workers often face. Handles have also been included in the middle of the airlift for the patient to hold on to, reassuring them during the transfer. In Health Care hygiene is a top priority, so the outer cover of the airlift is removable. This allows for a quick switch between patient visits and means they can be easily washed and sterilised after every use.