Wheelchair Transfers (How To Transfer From Bed, Car, And Toilet)

If you are currently in a wheelchair then you will need to understand how to perform wheelchair transfers to beds, cars, and toilets in order to do the everyday things we are accustomed to doing.   This guide will explain how to properly execute wheelchair transfers from your chair to other places you would use in your everyday life.

What is the best way to perform wheelchair transfers?  Knowing the right steps for each transfer of getting out of a wheelchair into a bed, toilet, and car will be the best way to perform wheelchair transfers.  Getting in the right position, locking your wheelchair, and getting help when you need it is the way to perform a wheelchair transfer.  Using a transfer board when you or the person that is transferring needs extra support and help is also key to a successful transfer. 

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How to transfer from a wheelchair to a bed

So, how do you transfer yourself from a wheelchair to a bed?  Let’s take a look at the best way to do this in a step by step approach below.

Get your wheelchair in the correct position

  1.  Move your wheelchair as close as you can to the best in a parallel passion to it.  An important tip is if you are stronger on one side then you should be on that side of the bed to make things easier. 
  2. You do not want your wheelchair to slip as you make the transfer.  If you have locking brakes please use them.  Also if the bed has locking wheels they should be on also.
  3.  The footrest should be moved out of the way at this point so you can make the transfer without tripping or having anything that could have your feet get stuck.
  4. Now, start the transfer from the char to the bed.  If you have someone with you that can help you at this point.

How to transfer from a wheelchair to a car with a caregiver

Learning how to transfer from a wheelchair to a car is also a necessity for some of us.  So, here is a step by step guide on how to safely transfer from a wheelchair to a car. 

  • If possible have the vehicle in a spot that makes the wheelchair access as easy as possible to get as close as possible to the car.
  • Move the car seat as far back as it can go.
  • Move the footrests out of the way if the particular chair allows that to happen.  A lot of manual wheelchairs and transport chairs have swing footrests that will move.
  • Move the person as close to the vehicle as you can with the chair at the angle with the car.
  •  If the wheelchair has locking brakes now is the time to lock them in place.
  • The person in the chair should slightly move forward.  
  • Have the person hold onto the wheelchair armrest at this point.   Now have them start to push up.
  • While you are standing in front of the person bend your knees in order to take more weight without injuring yourself. 
  • Now as they start to stand you are helping them to pivot and turn with small steps and back themselves up to the car seat. 
  • The person should now slowly start to sit in the car seat.
  • Now help the person to turn and also help them if they need to left their legs in the car.
  • Put on seatbelt and close door. 

How to transfer from a wheelchair to a toilet

Like the other transfers from a wheelchair above transferring to a toilet is a huge necessity that should be learned.  Here are the steps in doing so.

  1. Make sure you are sitting in the chair as close to the toilet as you can be.
  2. Make sure the brakes are engaged and the footrests are open or if they can be removed they are removed. 
  3. The caregiver should be in a position to support you when you start to make the transfer.
  4. Now, the person in the wheelchair should be at the edge of the chair ready to stand.  Be sure the caregiver has their hands on your hips.  You should now have your hands on the armrests for stability and support.    You should now lift up as much as you can by pushing yourself on the armrest. 
  5. Now once standing the toilet should be in front of you.   Now the caregiver can guide and help the wheelchair users complete the transfer and sit on the toilet.

What is a Transfer slide board?

The word transferring means moving from a wheelchair to a bed, car, or toilet.  Sometimes depending on the person’s health and strength a transfer board is needed.    

So, what is a transfer board?  A transfer board is also known as a sliding board is either made of plastic or wood that typically is flat.  It is used to bridge together two surfaces so the person can slide or move between the two areas with less or small movements.   These boards also require less body strength than other transfer types. 

Important Transfer Slide Boards Tips to Remember

Here are some important transfer tips to remember while using a slide board.

  • Move slowly and carefully.  There is no need to rush.
  • Do not use another object to slide or cross over.  Always use a real transfer board. 
  • Do not transfer on major height differences.  This is dangerous. 
  • Stay in the correct position while transferring.
  • If you are weak use a caregiver for extra help.

our final thoughts on Wheelchair transfers

If you found yourself in a wheelchair because of an accident, illness, or older age you will be finding yourself with some new challenges that you will have to overcome.  One of those will be how to get yourself in and out of a wheelchair to get to bed, on the toilet, and more.  

Learning how to to do wheelchair transfers will be one of those things you will need to understand and learn how to accomplish.  Following the steps provided will help you get out of your wheelchair safer.  

Also, using a transfer slide board will help in getting you out of your chair when you can’t physically do this without help.

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About ASmith

Adam Smith is the main researcher and contributor at Mobility Medical Supply. Adam has many years of research in public data, and software security. With Mobility issues within Adam's family, he decided to dedicate in-depth guides on mobility products to anyone looking to improve movement and gain independence.