How to Transfer a Patient from Bed to Wheelchair

Written by Vivienne Piong

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Safety is very important when it comes to taking care of a patient. Whenever you’re required to transfer a patient from bed to wheelchair, always remember that clear communication is important to minimize potential risks. If the patient is unable to help you, then the transfer will require two people or a full-body sling lift. 

It takes strength and coordination to be able to move in and out of a wheelchair. Some people are able to do this on their own, but some need assistance. Caregivers will need to know how to properly prepare for the transfer as well as how to position themselves while doing so. 

Key things to remember

  • Make sure the wheelchair is as close as possible to where you are moving the person, to lessen the strain on the muscles during the move. 
  • When transferring from bed to wheelchair, do so on the stronger side of the person’s body to prevent falling.
  • Keep the wheelchair locked while a person is moving in or out of it to reduce the risk of accidents. 
  • Move any foot pedal or leg rest out of the way.
  • As much as possible, use a gait belt to prevent injuries. 
  • Bend your knees while transferring to protect your back.
  • Practice first under the supervision of a more experienced caregiver to ensure smooth transfers.

Step 1 : Prepare for the transfer

Move the wheelchair directly next to the surface of the bed. You can opt for a slight angle around 30-45 degrees, but it’s not mandatory. Lock the brakes and move any possible obstruction out of the way. Communicate clearly with the person you are transferring so that you can make adjustments depending on his or her condition. This also syncs both of your efforts, making the transfer a lot smoother.

Step 2:  Sit them up

Explain what you’re about to do clearly to the person you’re transferring, so that there are no surprises. Once everything is set, turn them on their side so that they’re facing the wheelchair. Next, put an arm under their neck, with your hand supporting the shoulder blade. Then put your other hand under the knees. Swing the legs over the edge of the bed, so that they’re sitting up.

Step 3: Help them stand

First, let them scoot to the edge of the bed. Then, help them put on skid-proof socks or shoes to prevent them from slipping. Once done, put your arms around the chest and clasp your hands behind their back. Alternatively, you may also use a transfer belt for a firmer handhold. Lean back, shift your weight, and then lift them up from the bed until their feet are firmly on the ground. 

Step 4:  Pivot toward the wheelchair

Continue to clasp your hands around the patient while having them pivot toward the wheelchair. If there’s another caregiver present, have them support either the wheelchair or the patient from behind. If you have a gait belt, place it on the patient for better grip during the transfer. As they are turning, the person being transferred can either hold onto you or reach for the wheelchair for balance. 

Step 5:  Sit them down

As soon as their legs are touching the seat of the wheelchair, bend your knees to help lower them into the seat. If there is another caregiver, they can help position the buttocks of the person being transferred and support the chair. Reposition the foot and arm rests and help them shuffle in their seat to be comfortable. 

Transferring a patient from the bed to the wheelchair is just one of the many responsibilities a caregiver has to juggle on a daily basis. CircleOf was made specifically to help caregivers manage their tasks, stay connected with other caregivers, privately share information, and coordinate care so that these tasks can either be delegated or split between two helpers. Caregiving can be challenging at times, but it’s always a rewarding experience.

References

https://www.mountnittany.org/wellness-article/moving-patients-from-bed-to-wheelchair-staff-ed

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000428.htm

https://www.saintlukeskc.org/health-library/transfer-bed-wheelchair

https://www.myshepherdconnection.org/sci/transfers/pivot-bed

https://training.mmlearn.org/blog/how-to-make-a-safe-wheelchair-transfer-videos-included

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