What is Single-handed Care?

Updated: Nov 8, 2020

Single-handed care seems to be a hot topic at the minute, and it will probably only get hotter and hotter until something is done about the healthcare sector. Budget cuts and the increasing aged population have put an incomprehensible amount of stress on care workers as it is; people are putting forward single-handed care not as a solution, but as something to alleviate this stress.

But the idea of single-handed care divides opinions throughout the sector. Can you really get the same quality and level of care from one person?

The State of Play

The current strain on the NHS and social services is almost unquantifiable. People are living longer and requiring more care, yet less funding is going into social care, and fewer people are choosing to become carers.

A study carried out by The King’s Fund found that social care is facing a funding gap of £2.5 billion by 2019/2020. On top of this, the community nursing workforce has declined by 2.3% over the past two years. With the government estimating that the 85+ demographic will double by 2020, it seems there is no way that social care can maintain its workload without more funding and some key changes.

What is single-handed care?

Single-handed care is exactly as it sounds. It is the review and reduction of care packages to require fewer carers per person, without putting that person’s health and well-being in harm’s way. In turn, staff can cover more care packages with no detrimental effect on the quality of care they provide.

But naturally, people are quite sceptical of this idea. The shortfalls of care have been broadcast from pillar to post; carers turning up late, not staying long enough, and cancelling visits last minute can be incredibly distressing for someone who relies on care staff to provide them with support every single day.

How can we maintain high-quality single-handed care?

If a plan is to be put in place to incorporate single-handed care, then it should be rolled out with due attention. Care packages should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and the principles of single-handed care should only be introduced if it’s entirely safe and appropriate. Evidence shows that if single-handed care is carried out in the right manner, it can be applied to about 40% of cases.

Of course, there’s the physicality of single-handed care to think about as well. What happens when a carer goes to someone’s home, but cannot carry out proper moving and handling manoeuvres because it usually requires two people?

Having the right equipment is a great solution for this. Investing in the right tools for the job can be incredibly cost-effective in the long-run, and it can help to make care easier and quicker overall.

Tackling falls with single-handed care

Falls are a big problem for those who need care as well as their carers. Age UK reported that every year in the UK, just over one in three people over the age of 65 suffer a fall that may lead to serious injury or death. Trying to lift someone by yourself without any equipment can cause more harm than good.

Fortunately, there have been lots of developments made over recent years – particularly with falls lifting devices that can be use by a single carer. For instance, the Raizer lifting chair has been adopted by moving and handling teams, independent OTs, and emergency services across the country. It is operated by one single carer, and can lift a fallen person from the floor to standing in just minutes. The Raizer allows the operator to maintain eye contact and conversation with the fallen person, therefore helping to deliver a person-centred approach to care.

Are there any results so far?

The evidence is always growing when it comes to single-handed care and its benefits, and one company that are dedicated to this have shared some incredible figures. A1 Risk Solutions found that Cambridgeshire County Council had trialled a review system for single-handed care during 2016/2017, and had a 44% reduction in care packages and plans. From this, they worked out that they would be spending around £10,000 a month on equipment, but saving over £800,000 a year.


The evidence that support single-handed care is growing, and it presents a stronger case for it with each and every study. Even equipment designers and developers have noticed the change in trend, and are now focusing on creating items that can be operated easily by one person. The financial stress and strain on the NHS and our social care services won’t be ending any time soon, so single-handed care may be the solution we were looking for to help bridge the gap and alleviate the pressure.

The Occupational Therapy Hub

  • Facebook - White Circle
  • Instagram - White Circle
  • Twitter - White Circle
  • LinkedIn - White Circle

Copyright © 2021 The OT Hub Ltd

Information and recommendations on The Occupational Therapy Hub are shared by the global community. Whilst we review all pages, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of information provided. Content within the platform does not constitute medical advice. Get in touch.