How to Transfer a Senior from Wheelchair to Bed Safely

how to transfer a senior from wheelchair to bed safely

Becoming dependent on others is almost an unavoidable condition of old age.

As an elderly, certain actions become restricted for you to perform alone. Actions like walking or moving about, getting in and out of bed, and dressing up. You’ll certainly require a caregiver’s assistance in lifting you from surfaces.

As a caregiver, there are different ways you can safely transfer a senior from a wheelchair to a bed. You can transfer by lifting the individual, using a gait belt, using a transfer board, or using a patient lift.

These transfers differ, depending on the type of chair, the bed, the senior’s strength and age, the level of inability/restriction of the senior, and the number of persons helping, as you will see.  

Table of Contents

Lifting the Individual

You can either lift the individual alone or with the help of another person, depending on your physical strength and the weight of the individual you’re going to lift.

Lifting Alone If the Individual is Light-weight

Wheel the individual very close to the edge of the bed and lock the wheels of the chair. Remove the footrests or turn them sideways so they don’t hinder your movement.

Stand in front of the chair, spread your legs a bit to achieve a steady stance when you lift, and bend over.

This step depends on the direction the wheelchair is facing. Place one arm of the individual over your neck. Place one of your hands on the individual’s back to guard it and place the other hand beneath the knees of the individual.

Lift the individual up from the chair and place on the bed.  

Related: How to Use Transfer Board from Wheelchair to Toilet

Lifting the Individual with the Help of Another Person

This can only mean two things; you either don’t have the strength to lift alone or the care recipient is heavy-weight.

Wheel the chair very close to the bed and lock the wheels. Get the footrests out of the way.

Let the stronger person lift the care recipient from the shoulders while you lift from the shin region of the legs.

Both of you should then lift the care recipient from the wheelchair, over the height of the chair, and onto the bed. Make sure to lift as high as possible so that the chair does not cause a hindrance.

Transferring with or without a Gait Belt

how to transfer elderly from wheelchair to bed

With a Gait Belt

The gait belt is used to help control the patient’s movement and this transfer requires no step from you. 

Wheel the patient close to the edge of the bed. Take the footrests off or turn them sideways. Lock the wheels of the chair. Slightly tilt the patient forward to strap the gait belt on the waist/hip.

Use your legs to lock the knees of the patient by placing them between your legs.

Bend over a bit and lift the patient from the waist using the gait belt and onto the bed with a slight turn of your upper body.

Carry the patient’s feet off the floor and make the patient lie on the bed.

Without a Gait Belt

Wheel the senior very close to the bed and take the footrests off. Lock the brakes of the chair and lock the senior’s legs between yours. Bend your knees and keep your back straight. Place your hands beneath the senior’s armpit and let it rest on the senior’s back.

Gently lift the senior up from the chair and take steps towards the bed so that the back of the senior’s knee touches the bed. It is best to place the senior in the middle of the bed. Lift the legs of the senior off the floor and make them lie on the bed.

Related: How to Get a Wheelchair Bound Person into a Car

Transferring with a Slide/Transfer Board

Wheel the care recipient very close to the bed and lock the brakes of the wheelchair. Take the footrests out of the way by removing them or turning them sideways.

Take the transfer board and insert the tapered edge under the hip of the care recipient. Make the board also sit well enough on the edge of the bed, preferably above two inches into the bed.

Place your hands beneath the armpits of the care recipient and help them make slow and careful slides from the wheelchair onto the bed.

Once on the bed, remove the transfer board and get the care recipient’s feet off the floor to the bed.

How to Transfer Elderly from the Wheelchair to the Bed Using a Patient Lift

how to transfer a senior from wheelchair to bed safely

A patient lift is an assistive device that helps patients get transferred from one surface to the other using hydraulic or electrical power.

This transfer requires a trained caregiver that can operate the lift. It is mostly used in hospitals and care homes.

Start by locking the brakes of the wheelchair and getting the footrests out of the way. Lock the knees of the patient. Strap the sling around the patient and make it fitted to the center of the patient’s back. Then, push the sling all the way down to the patient’s spine base.

Use the base spreader to open the lift to achieve stability. Face the lift to the patient’s chest and attach the straps to the hooks on the lift. Lock the lift and turn the control valve clockwise.

Place your hands behind the patient’s head for support and begin to pump the lift till the patient is lifted out of the chair at a height above the bed. Turn the lift from the direction of the chair to the direction of the bed, pushing it in towards the middle of the bed till you achieve a position to drop the patient on the bed.

Use the control valve in a clockwise position to lower the patient onto the bed and hold the lift bar away from the patient’s body. Remove the attachments from the hooks on the lift bar, unlock it and wheel the lift out of the way.

Detach the straps and remove the sling from the patient’s body carefully.     

Related: How to Easily Change a Diaper in a Wheelchair (Complete Guide)

Important Tips

Be sure to talk the senior through the lifting process. Let the individual know how you want to make the transfer before helping out.

If the bed you are transferring to is an adjustable bed, always remember to adjust the bed to the height of the wheelchair seat or a little bit lower to ensure a smooth transfer. But if the bed is not adjustable and higher than the wheelchair, then always seek assistance to help with the transfer as it will be dangerous and might cause an accident to the care recipient.

Always make sure that the bed is laid flat and ready to receive the individual without obstructions. Also, don’t forget to always lock the wheels of the bed if the bed has wheels.

No matter the transfer method you use, always make necessary adjustments after placing the patient on the bed from the wheelchair.

How to Transfer a Senior from Wheelchair to Bed Safely


My love for the disabled community started when I helped a blind man cross the road at around age 6. Fast forward to decades later, I became the caregiver of my grandma, who lost her ability to speak in her 90s. This blog helps me to produce helpful content that aligns with my passion.

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