Caring Web

Safe Transfer Techniques


As the caregiver of a person who has had a stroke you must be aware of your limits mentally and physically.

Although it is possible to move a person from a bed to a chair independently, it is recommended that two people perform the procedure for someone who is very weak or unable to support him or herself.

Consult your physician or a physical therapist for advice on assistive devices that may make transferring a person from a bed to a chair easier; such as slide boards, gait belts, lifts, and wheelchairs with removable arms.

The Transfer Process

Step 1. Explain the procedure to the person.

Step 2. Place the wheelchair or chair the person is going to sit in parallel to the bed so that it is touching the bed and faces either the head or foot of the bed. The chair should be positioned so that it is on the person's unaffected side.

Step 3. Lock the wheelchair and bed in place and make sure the person has non-skid footwear on both feet.

Step 4. Lower the bed to its lowest position and raise the head of the bed (if possible) to the highest position so that the person is sitting upright.

Step 5. Assist the person to roll to their side. Place one hand over their legs and grab under both legs. Place the other hand under their arm and around their back. In one motion, swing their legs off the edge of the bed while lifting the upper torso with your other hand into the upright sitting position. Assist the person to scoot out of the bed until both feet are on the floor.

Step 6. Place both of your feet in front of the person's feet so they do not slide. Place your arms under theirs and around their back and have them place their unaffected arm on your shoulder. Bend down at the knees and stabilize their legs against yours. Lean the person forward and have them push up on the unaffected leg at the same time you are lifting them into the standing position. A belt may be used as an alternative to help lift the person to the standing position.

Step 7. Have the person pivot towards their affected side so that their bottom is facing the chair. Slowly lower the person, while bending at the knees, into the wheelchair or chair.

Step 8. Relax, you're done!

There are many different ways to perform a bed to chair transfer. Use the one you find the easiest and your body finds the easiest. Remember, there are many assistive devices out there that make this job much easier.

Additional Information:

The following are some web sites to provide you with more information about safe transfer techniques:

Safe Lifting Techniques

The Patient Lifters Buying Guide


Hope: The Stroke Recovery Guide. (2009). Retrieved from

Nelson, A., Motacki, K., & Menzel, N. (2009). The illustrated guide to safe patient handling and movement. NY: Springer. Retrieved from

Obeck, L. (2011). Safe patient lifting techniques. Retrieved from

Prevention. (2008). Retrieved from

Stein, J. (2009). Stroke recovery and rehabilitation. New York, NY: Demos Medical Publishing

Stroke facts: Recovery after stroke: Managing life at home. (2009). Retrieved from

Developed in 2000 by James Randolph, RN at the University of Toledo for Caring~Web. Revised 2010, 2012.

Last Updated: 6/27/22