Effective Transfers Of Older Persons

June 22, 2021 3 min read

When assisting the elderly in transfers, improper techniques will easily cause injury to the caregiver. Therefore, it is very important to learn the proper methods and use the correct equipment to ensure a smooth and safe transfer process.

The correct technique of transfers will leave the elderly feeling a sense of security, and involves the caregiver knowing how to maintain a correct posture for each type of transfer. Making use of the right transfer aids will also help to boost the effectiveness and ease the process of each transfer.

This article will teach you how to do effective transfers at 3 areas of your house:

  1. Bed repositioning
  2. Bed to Wheelchair transfer
  3. Wheelchair to Commode transfer

1. Bed Repositioning

Bed repositioning can be very difficult if the caregiver is not strong enough or if the patient is bigger in size.Transfer sheets have a very smooth surface which helps to reduce friction and minimises resistance. This allows patients to be transferred more easily during transfer activities. Its usage is not restricted to the bed, but also for other transfers from the wheelchair to the toilet or car.

a. Regular bed repositioning

Stand with one leg forward and lean your body against the headboard. Pull the transfer sheet using your body weight in this motion:

b. Hospital bed repositioning

Make sure to remove all possible obstructions and adjust the height of the bed to your mid-thigh for the optimal position.

c. Turning in bed

To minimise back strain and reduce the risk of sprains, place your knee on the bed while adjusting the patient. When pulling, keep your arms close to your chest and lean your body backwards.


2. Bed to Wheelchair transfer

The wheelchair should be positioned perpendicular to the bed to reduce the transfer distance. To promote easy transfers, armrests and footrests should be removed from wheelchairs if possible. In this case, detachable pushchairs such as our HappyWheels Lightweight Detachable Pushchair would be very suitable.

a. Without transfer aids

Before lifting, lean the patient forward until their pelvis lifts off the bed slightly and support them using your shoulder.

To scoot the patient forward and closer to the wheelchair:

Start by securing the patient’s legs with your thighs. Place your hand on their shoulder blade and lean them to one side. Pull at their pelvis once the hip is lifted and rotate your body to scoot them forwards. Repeat if needed.

b. With Transfer Belt

To help create momentum, the caregiver can rock the patient forwards and backwards before transferring. The caregiver can also try counting down so the patient can assist and anticipate the transfer.

Reminder: A Gait Belt is not a transfer belt and should not be used for transfers! Gait Belts are used to assist caregivers when walking with the patient to guide the centre of mass at the hips horizontally.

c. Independent transfers (with Transfer Board)

Transfers from the wheelchair to the bed and vice versa are made easier with the transfer board. Make sure to keep your wrists straight as you push yourself up through your 2nd and 3rd knuckles.

The transfer board bridges the gap between sitting surfaces and its smooth surface helps to minimise friction to ease transfers with or without assistance. It can also be used for other transfers such as from the wheelchair to the toilet, chair or car seat.


3. Wheelchair to Commode transfer

a. Less mobile patients

Be sure to engage all breaks on the wheelchair and commode during transfer. The wheels should also be pointed away from the patients to reduce the risk of cuts as shown:

Removing obstructions such as armrests and footrests helps to promote safe transfer processes. Having commodes that have these removable features such as ourHappyBath 3-in-1 Deluxe Aluminium Commode Chair will be very useful. 

b. More mobile patients (Pull to Stand using Grab Bar)

This method is suitable for patients who have strong grips and quad strength. When wheeling the patient into the toilet, ensure that the patient has adequate space in front of their knees so they can stand easily. Make sure to lock the wheels of the commode before the patient sits.

Grab bars come in different shapes, lengths and colours. Shop our collection of grab barsHERE!


For more information about effective transfers, watch our virtual talk conducted by Home Physiotherapist Chua Pei Shan!

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