Caregiving 101: How to Help a Wheelchair User Transfer

November 2, 2016 | 6:00 am | By Pants Up Easy

If you have recently started being a caregiver to a wheelchair user you are likely trying to learn the best ways to be of assistance. Depending on the injury, they may be dependent on your for all of their daily needs. There are others with spinal cord injuries that maintain some use of their upper body and can do many tasks independently. No matter what level of mobility they have, there are several ways you can help a wheelchair user have a safe and successful transfer.

  • Position the chair correctly

The position of the wheelchair will help both you and the wheelchair user in the transfer process. Be sure and get the chair as close as possible to the surface the wheelchair user intends to transfer to. A smaller distance will help decrease the likelihood of a fall. Once the wheelchair is positioned you need to lock the wheels. The next step is to make sure the foot pedals are moved so they do not get in the way during the transfer process. You will need to repeat these three steps each time the wheelchair user wants to transfer in or out of their chair.

  • Assess the physical ability of the wheelchair user

The physical ability of a wheelchair user can vary greatly and depend on several factors. The type of injury, age, and overall strength are all factors that can impact a person’s ability to safely transfer in and out of a wheelchair. If they are able, allow the wheelchair user to transfer independently and provide assistance when asked. The ability to transfer without assistance can greatly increase the independence level of a wheelchair user. In addition, it reduces your likelihood of sustaining an injury as the caregiver when the wheelchair user only requires minimal help with transfers. When the wheelchair user needs assistance make sure do not put your own safety in danger by taking on too much weight.

  • Use the help of transfer aides

If the wheelchair user is unable to transfer independently, determine the level of help they need. If they need more help than you can provide it may be necessary to bring in a lift or another type of transfer aide. Some pieces of equipment are relatively small and inexpensive-such as transfer boards. Other transfer aides, such as hydraulic lifts, are more bulky and expensive. The type of equipment necessary will depend on the wheelchair user’s level of strength and coordination and your ability as the caregiver to assist.

  • Make safety the top priority

The most important thing to remember when you are trying to help a wheelchair user transfer is that safety is the top priority. Your safety and the safety of the wheelchair user are both very important. You will not be any help to your loved one if you injure yourself and are no longer able to help. Take your time during transfers to double check all of the safety features of the wheelchair and the other equipment-if applicable.

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