Helpful Tips for Safe Transfers

The following tips are only provided as a guide to improve safety.  Please ask your physical therapist, nurse, or physician for proper transfer techniques.  Be sure to consult manufacturer’s instructions before using any assistive devices or equipment.


  • Safety is vital for BOTH the Client and the Caregiver!

  • Use assistive devices (ex: gait belt, grab bars, chairs) whenever available.

  • Have patience and be gentle with anyone needing assistance.

  • Inform the client of the steps involved in the transfer. 

  • Use simple and SHORT commands, speaking slowly and clearly.

  • Bend at your knees as opposed to your back, utilizing your strongest muscle to lift.

  • Never pick up a client by their arms (arms can easily be dislocated from their joints).  If lifting is required, try to carry the client’s weight at their core.

  • Socks are slippery. Make sure client is wearing shoes or non-slip slippers/socks.  Clients should avoid sandals or open-toed shoes.

  • Provide extra assistance to a client’s weak side (ex: clients that have disability caused by stroke)

  • Be sure client is not dizzy or light-headed before moving on to the next step.

  • Clients are often nervous about a transfer, so be patient and provide a sense of calm.

  • Always scoot the client’s body to the edge of the bed or seat before standing, with their feet slightly behind their knees, so when they stand their body weight will be supported by their legs.

  • Use a gait belt when possible.  Position around the client’s waist/midsection/core.  Be aware of vital organs or ribs as both areas are susceptible to injury.




CANES – Make sure height of cane is adjusted properly.  Hold cane in the hand of non-affected side of their body. Move affected leg and cane forward simultaneously.


WALKERS – Make sure height of walker is adjusted properly.  Move walker forward first, then move affected leg forward first. While supporting their weight with the walker, bring the unaffected leg forward. Repeat these steps while using the walker.  Be aware of the clients’ strength and endurance. When returning to seated position, have client back up to the chair and have the back of their legs touching the chair, then instruct client to reach back with both hands, and lower down into the chair.


WHEELCHAIRS – Always make sure breaks are locked when transferring client. Remove the legs of the chair before moving client into chair to avoid cuts. Cushions can help with proper positioning or comfort. Seat height should be adjusted properly so that feet touch the ground, so they can propel themselves.


GAIT BELT (aka TRANSFER BELT) – used to steady client, or guide center of gravity


GRAB BARS OR RAILS – used to support weight and steadiness during lifts or transfers


SLIDING BOARDS – Position one side of the board under hip of client and other side on the seat of the chair. Assist client as they slide across the board to the chair.


MECHANICAL LIFTS (aka HOYER LIFT) – A mechanical lift is used to transfer bed-bound clients that cannot assist with their ambulation, using hydraulic power.


SWIVEL DISKS (transfer disks) – Swivel disks assist with the pivot of a client’s weight.  Place directly in front of the client’s feet. Assist to standing position. While supporting client, use the swivel disk to pivot the client.


LIFT CHAIR RECLINER – A lift chair is essentially a recliner with an “up” and “down” button to help lift the client’s body to a better position for transfers.