Moving from wheelchair to bed

Using this technique you will find it safer and easier to transfer a person from the wheelchair to the bed but not at the expense of your back. There is always a risk for falls, and no transfer technique is without risk.

What you'll need

  • Wheelchair/bedside commode/bed
  • Caregiver Must be Physically Capable of performing transfers (lifting and rotating movements)
  • Nonskid slippers, shoes or socks
  • Adequate room to maneuver

Task time

5-10 minutes

Steps for transferring from Wheelchair to Bed

  1. Have the bed at the lowest level.
  2. Park the wheelchair with the person’s strongest side next to the bed.
  3. Lock the wheelchair brakes and remove feet from foot rests.
  4. Swing or remove foot rests from wheelchair.
  5. Explain the sequence of lifting and pivoting into the wheelchair (example: on the count of 3, I am going to help you stand up and turn to your strong side; eg right side as in above example; and sit in the wheelchair).
  6. Using the bear hug technique, ask the person to place his/her arms on your shoulders as you place your arms around his/her trunk.
  7. Bracket their feet with your feet to prevent slipping.
  8. Using your leg muscles, stand up and bring the person upward in a slow steady rising motion.
  9. Seat the person on the bed
  10. Assist in bring the person’s legs up onto the bed.
  11. Position for comfort.


If the room arrangement does not allow transferring from the person’s strong side, follow instructions as above, remembering to always place the wheelchair next to the person’s strongest knee. For example, if you are transferring a person from the right side of the bed, and his/her strongest side is the left side, place the wheelchair next to the left knee and complete transfer as described above.

Helpful Hints

  • Never leave a person unattended on a bedside commode
  • To protect the caregiver’s back, always use your legs to lift—not your back
  • Move your feet during the pivoting process to maintain proper back alignment
  • For people with fragile skin, remember to use your hands and not your fingers during transfer
  • Learn how to attach and detach wheelchair foot rests prior to actual transfer
  • If you are uncertain about the person's ability to assist with transfers, have a second caregiver stand by to assist.
  • You may want to consider that it would be safer to care for an extremely weak person in bed. Do not attempt to transfer anyone if you feel unable to lift their full weight. Despite your best efforts, you must realize that during any transfer, there is a potential for falling and or significant injury to both you and the person.