Do You Know enough about Positioning?

Do You Know enough about Positioning?

Positioning is often described as complicated and as a task to be left for experts. This is unfortunate because positioning does not require any specialized training or specialized knowledge.

2. July 2019

By: Physiotherapist, Peter Maindal

This might seem like a mundane question, but it is a question that holds many different answers. And in my experience, many healthcare professionals are unable to answer. 

I would define positioning as the wat you place, i.e. position, the client in bed even if it doesn’t involve any actual positioning cushions, pads or wedges. 

As such positioning is about placing the client in appropriate positions depending on what is needed at the given time, e.g. are you placing the client in a certain way to make room for conducting personal hygiene or are you positioning them for them to go to sleep? Either way, positioning should entail that the client is comfortable.

What is the Purpose of Positioning?

There can be several different reasons for working with positioning. It can be to increase the client's comfort, to relieve pressure or all-round support of the body.

It can also be about pain relief or opening up the airways to improve respiration. Finally, it is about appropriately positioning clients to perform various procedures in bed such as lower hygiene procedures.

There are many more purposes of positioning and in many cases the goal is a combination of several. Altogether, positioning is about ensuring the best care and comfort for the client, particularly those who are unable to position themselves.

The purpose of positioning

  • Create comfort or boundaries
  • Relieve certain body parts or more general support of the body
  • Pain relief
  • Improve respiration
  • Hygiene processes or examinations
  • Relieve deformities
  • Relieve oedema and circulatory problems


The importance of Positioning

Positioning is of great importance, not only for the client’s well-being and comfort, but most certainly also for treatment and healing processes. 

Inadequate positioning can have a negative impact on disease progression, and the need for positioning must therefore always be assessed individually.

Consequently, positioning of clients, particularly immobile clients or clients with reduced mobility, should be a focus area in line with pressure ulcer prevention, incontinence and nutrition!