Transfer: Bed to Wheelchair

If your loved one will use a wheelchair, you need to know about transfers. For safety’s sake, learn how to help them in and out of the wheelchair. One basic method is shown here.

Step 1. Sit the person up:

Healthcare provider sitting patient up in bed to start transfer to wheelchair.

  • Lock the wheelchair.

  • Help the person turn over onto their side, facing you.

  • Put an arm under their upper back with your hand supporting their shoulder. Put your other hand behind their knees.

  • Swing their legs over the edge of the bed, helping them to sit up.

Step 2. Stand the person up:

Healthcare provider standing patient up from bed and turning to transfer to wheelchair.

  • Have the person scoot to the edge of the bed.

  • Put your arms around their chest and clasp your hands behind their back. Do not allow them to grab or hold you around your neck.

  • Support the leg farthest from the wheelchair between your legs, lean back, shift your weight, and lift.

Step 3. Sit the person in the wheelchair:

Healthcare provider helping patient sit in wheelchair.
  • Have the person pivot toward the wheelchair, as you continue to hold on. Always transfer toward the person’s stronger side.

  • As they bend toward you, bend your knees and lower the person into the back of the wheelchair.

Important safety tips

Lifting a person can be hard on your back. To reduce the risk of a back injury, remember to do the following:

  • Organize the steps in your head before you start.

  • Explain the steps of the move and ask the person to tell you when they are ready to transfer.

  • Keep your knees bent and your back straight.

  • Use a transfer belt to provide a firm hold, rather than clasping your hands behind the person's back.

  • Get help when you need it.

  • Ask to practice with supervision.