Transferring a patient from a bed to a wheelchair can be a challenging process if you don’t take the right precautions. It’s important to make the move properly to avoid any injuries on both the patient’s end and your own. The type of transfer you will use depends on both you and your patient’s strength. For lifting and moving patients, follow these steps and patient transfer techniques:
- Gauge Strength- Find out exactly how much strength you and your patient have. This will let you know what you are working with and how much you both can handle.
- Position chair next to bed and make adjustments- Make sure the chair is parallel and as close as possible to the side of the bed with your patient’s good leg. You’ll next want to make sure the bed and wheelchair are at the same level. If you have an electric bed, lower the height to make for an easier transfer. Always make sure the chair wheels are locked before you begin any movement.
- Get patient into the seated position- After having the patient sit up allow them to stay in that position for a few moments in case they feel weak or dizzy. Plant both of the patient’s feet on the floor to get a sturdy stance.
- Position yourself for the lift- Put one of your arms under the patient’s shoulder and the other behind the knees. Bend your knees, and keep your back straight. If a patient has a gait belt, hold onto that for a better grip.
- Lift- Count to three and slowly stand up. Have the patient put their arms at their sides and push off the bed.
- Placing in the chair- Pivot and turn towards the wheelchair while moving your feet so your back is aligned with your hips. Bend your knees to slowly lower the patient into the chair. Have your patient reach for the armrest for balance. If at any time the patient starts to fall during the transfer, carefully lower them to a nearby flat surface.
An alternative is to take advantage of medical devices. Luckily, there are several medical devices that can aid in transferring patients safely.
Use a Lift:
If you don’t have the strength to lift a patient out of bed yourself, consider investing in a lift device. Battery-powered electric and manual lifts can make the transfer process more fluid and effortless. Using a lift will take both the pressure off of the caretaker and patient, and it will prevent muscle strains for both parties.
A transfer board is used to connect two surfaces - in this case the bed and chair. The flat and long board, usually made of wood or plastic, allows for the use of less upper body strength. To use the bed-to-chair transfer medical device, slide the board underneath the patient and work with them to slide them onto the chair.
Before you begin any transfer process, always make sure to let the patient know exactly what you are doing. Let them know what will happen before each step, so they are aware of how they can work with you during the transition.