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Transferring a Care Recipient

Hollison bridge
Snow on the ground and a few well-placed wreaths add a holiday feel to an old stone bridge in Holliston/Photo By Stephen Corso

How to transfer to and from a bed to a chair or wheelchair

Although it is possible to move a person from a bed to a chair independently, it is recommended that two people perform the procedure for someone who is very weak or unable to support him or herself.

Consult your physician or a physical therapist for advice on assistive devices that may make transferring a person from a bed to a chair easier such as slide boards, gait belts, lifts and wheelchairs with removable arms.

Note: If someone has a weaker side, for example after a stroke, place the wheelchair on the unaffected or strongest side.

Natick Common in the Fall
Fall colors shine brightly on Natick Common
in the autumn/Photo By Douglas Flynn

Transfer process:

  • Wash your hands.
  • Inform the person what you are going to do.
  • If it is a hospital bed or adjustable bed place it in the position with the head of the bed up as high as possible, if the person can tolerate this position comfortably.
  • Move the chair to the side of the bed near the feet, on the strong side if the person has a weakened side; the chair should be parallel to the bed, but angled slightly out with the front wheel snug against the bed.
  • If it is a wheelchair lock it; be sure to lock both wheels.
  • Have the person scoot to the edge of the bed close to you.
  • Have them uncross their legs and cross their arms on their chest.
  • Put one hand under the shoulder.
  • Put the other hand across the body and grasp the side of the knee farthest from you.
  • Inform them you’ll move them on three, then count to three.
  • Lift and swing them into a sitting position.
  • Put on shoes.
  • If using a gait belt put it on; if fitted properly four fingers should fit inside the belt laid flat against the abdomen.
  • Have the person put their feet together and put their hands on your shoulder.
  • Grasp the gait belt on the sides, or if you’re not using one put your hand on their waist. You may want to hold onto the waistband of the pants or belt.
  • Put your foot that is away from the chair sideways in front of their toes.
  • Again, “on the count of three” assist them to stand and pivot in one smooth motion into the chair.
  • Remove the belt.
  • Wash hands.

Contributed by Sara Miller, RN

NOTE: This information is for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for medical or professional care, and you should not use the information in place of a visit, call consultation or the advice of your physician or other healthcare provider. BayPath is not liable or responsible for the opinion of the author. Reliance on any information provided is solely at your own risk.

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BayPath Elder Services, Inc

Caregiving MetroWest is a no-cost program of BayPath Elder Services, Inc. and was made possible in part by grants from the MetroWest Health Foundation.

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BayPath Elder Services, Inc.'s Family Caregiver Support Program and Caregiving MetroWest are grateful for the generous support of our community partner, Avidia Bank, which helps us continue to give area family caregivers the information, resources and support they need.