Proper transferring techniques to avoid injury

If you’re caring for someone who needs assistance getting in and out of bed or to their wheelchair and back, you need to know how to do that safely, without causing injury. At times, being moved, moving improperly, or staying in one position for too long can cause tears in the skin or ulcers.

Transferring

If you’re caring for someone who needs assistance getting in and out of bed or to their wheelchair and back, you need to know how to do that safely, without causing injury. At times, being moved, moving improperly, or staying in one position for too long can cause tears in the skin or ulcers. 


Start by asking your care team for guidance. Each case is unique and the guidelines for care will vary. Before leaving the hospital or medical office ask when, how, and with what considerations to undertake position changes and transfers. 


When you and the care team have determined you are safe to take on a transfer, remember:

  • Protect any incisions, injuries, operations, tubing, or ports
  • Communicate clearly with everyone involved in the transfer in order to avoid confusion that could lead to injury 


Before you assist someone in transferring, check the expected path to make sure nothing potentially unsafe is in the way. If you don’t think you can do it safely, don’t do it at all. Remember, it's always better to ask for help than to injure yourself or the person you’re caring for. 


Make sure you understand how to use devices prescribed to assist with transfer before using them. Examples of assistive devices include: 

  • Walker
  • Wheelchair
  • Slide board
  • Cane
  • Crutches
  • Draw sheets
  • Lifts

Sources:

MedlinePlus: Moving a patient from bed to a wheelchair

University Health Network: Moving from a Wheelchair to Bed: Tips for Families of Patients in Rehab

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