If you are planning to become a caregiver, then one crucial thing that you need to learn is how to transfer a patient to and from a wheelchair. Transferring someone to and from a wheelchair safely and seamlessly is a technique that needs learning and, of course, a lot of practice. In this article, we will tell you what to do when transferring a person to or from a wheelchair.
What exactly is a wheelchair transfer?
A wheelchair transfer simply means moving someone out or into a wheelchair. Sometimes you may be required to use extra tools like a sliding board, gait belt, or mechanical lift to make the transfer process smooth and safe both for you and the person being moved.
Important safety tips to follow when transferring a person to and from a wheelchair
Ensure that both you and the person that you are transferring are wearing non-skid shoes like running shoes. This will avoid the risk of skidding and sliding during the transfer process which can cause fatal injury.
Check the overall condition of the wheelchair before you begin the transfer process. If the wheelchair is broken or looks weak, don’t use it.
Park the drive medical wheelchair close to the place where you will be transferring the patient. The closer you bring the wheelchair to the person that you will be moving, the easier the transfer process will be.
Transfer the patient using the side of his/her body that is strong.
If you need help during the transfer, ensure that you talk to the person who will help you first before the transfer process. Explain to the person clearly how you want to do the transfer to make the process seamless. Proper coordination is essential for the safe transfer of the patient and that can only happen if both of you understand your roles.
Lock the wheelchair wheel before you start the transfer process. If you don’t lock the wheelchair before the transfer process, it will move and that will make the transfer process difficult. To avoid this, ensure that you lock the wheelchair wheels to make the transfer process smooth and safe.
If the patient that you are moving to or from the wheelchair starts to fall, gently bend your knees then lower him/her to a safe surface. Please don’t hold on or grab the person’s clothes during the transfer process.
Step-by-step process on how to transfer a patient to and from a wheelchair
Step 1: Determine the patient’s needs
The first important thing to do is to determine the needs of the patient. Ask the patient about his/her preferred transfer method. Also, ask the patient what he /she would like done before and during the transfer process. Determining the patient’s needs will help make the transfer process easy and safe for both you and the patient.
Step 2: Assess the patient mobility and strength
Once you determine the patient’s needs, the next step is to determine their strength and mobility needs. This process is important because it will help you identify the strongest or dominant side of the body. To make the transfer to and from the wheelchair seamless, you should use the patient’s strongest side. This way, the patient will also assist you, thus making the process easy.
Step 3: Determine whether you need help
Before you move the patient to or from the wheelchair, it is crucial to determine whether you need help. The last thing you want is to drop the patient because he/she is too heavy. If you think you need to help to transfer the person to or from the wheelchair make adequate preparation before you start the moving process. Also, ensure that you talk to the person so that everyone knows the role to play in the moving process.
Step 4: Put the wheelchair as close as possible
Move the wheelchair as close as possible to the place where you will be moving the person. This will make the process easy and convenient for both you and the patient.
Step 5: Put the wheelchair on stable ground and lock the wheels
Before you transfer the patient to or from the wheelchair, put it on stable ground and lock the wheel so that it does not move when transferring the patient. Also, ensure that the footrest is upright so that the patient’s feet get close to the seat.
Wheelchair Transfer tools that every caregiver should have
Easy transfer chair
This is one of the most important transfer tools that caregivers should have. With this tool, you will no longer have to lift the patient on your own. Easy transfer chair has a seat that splits into two and can slide under the patient, thus making the transfer process easy. This tool will also help the caregiver to reduce the risk of back pain.
Transfer sliding board is ideal, especially for patients who cannot stand. It allows them to move to and from the wheelchair while seated. Transfer boards are equipped with an anti-slip surface that prevents the patient from slipping while moving to and from the wheelchair. It is also foldable and flexible and thus able to maneuver even in tight spaces.
Industrial back support
This tool will enable the caregiver to provide the patient with the much-needed back support to protect their spine from injury. Industrial back support is particularly helpful when lifting the patient.
Things to avoid when transferring a person to and from the wheelchair
- Don’t lift the patient from the wheelchair without informing them or while the patient is sleeping.
- Don’t transfer a patient to or from the wheelchair without locking the wheels
- When transferring a patient from the wheelchair, don’t lift them with your back muscles because you could injure yourself. Instead, lift the patient with your arm and leg muscles.
- Don’t pull the patient out of the wheelchair while using their clothing for support. This will not only make the patient uncomfortable but could also lead to injuries.
- Don’t lift a patient from the wheelchair without using the right body mechanics. Doing so could cause injury both to you and the patient.