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 your loved one in and out of the wheelchair. One basic method is shown here.

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

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

Healthcare provider helping patient sit in wheelchair.




1 Sit the patient up:

  • Lock the wheelchair.

  • Help the patient turn over onto his or her side, facing you.

  • Put an arm under the patient’s upper back with your hand supporting the shoulder. Put your other hand behind the knees.

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

2 Stand the patient up:

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

  • Put your arms around the patient’s chest and clasp your hands behind his or her back.

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

3 Sit the patient down:

  • Have the patient pivot toward the chair, as you continue to hold on. Always transfer toward the person’s stronger side.

  • As the patient bends toward you, bend your knees and lower the patient into the back of the chair.

Take care of your back

Lifting a patient 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 move.

  • Explain the steps of the move and ask the patient when he or she is ready to move.

  • Keep your knees bent and your back straight.

  • You may use a transfer belt to provide a firm hold, rather than clasping your hands behind his or her back.

  • Get help when you need it.

  • Ask to practice with supervision.