Patient Transfer Techniques

Patient Transfer Techniques

Patient Transfer Techniques

The following are the steps our medics will use to assess the best way to transport your loved one to their appointment/home or hospital visit.

1. Assess Patient Mobility

They will determine:

  • Can the patient support his/herself on his/her own?
  • How long can the patient support his/herself?
  • How much support will I need to provide in order to successfully transfer the patient?

2. Make sure transfer device is ready (stair chair/backboard or stretcher)

Firstly, it’s important that the surface you are transferring the patient to is close to the surface they are currently on.

For example, if you are transferring a patient from a bed to a stair chair, make sure the stair chair is pushed as close as possible to the bed and wheels are locked. Likewise, if you are moving a patient to or from their bed to a stretcher make sure the wheels are locked and the bed is at an even level with the surface so a sheet transfer or lift can be preformed.

Keeping transfer surfaces close and level greatly reduces the chances of injury of your loved one.

3. Communicate to the Patient

Communication is one of the most important patient’s transfer techniques. A calm patient is the best kind to have, the fastest you can bond with your patient the better transfer experience they will have and so will you, just by talking to a patient you can easily lower their anxiety/pain and blood pressure very rapidly.


Well, most injuries occur from a lack of communication. In fact, in 2015, miscommunication alone cost the Canadian Government over $500 million alone! 

For example, some causes of injury include a sudden change in the patient’s alertness or a lack of preparation before a transfer. Therefore, if you don’t communicate with the patient, he or she may become startled or confused during the transfer.

Before you begin the transfer, it’s vital that you explain to the patient exactly what you plan on doing. It may even be beneficial to count to three before you actually begin the transfer. This way, the patient is fully aware of what is going on.

4. Brace Yourself

When transferring a patient, it’s important you have the right posture to minimize the chance of injury.

Here are some tips to help you adequately support a patient in transfer:

  • Face the patient and keep him/her close to you. The farther away you are, the less stability you will give them.
  • Keep your knees bent and your feet shoulder-width apart. This will help to stabilize you.
  • When lifting, use your legs, not your back. Otherwise, you could seriously injure your back, especially if you repeatedly lift wrong. 
  • Avoid twisting or rotating your midsection. Rather, use pivots or steps. Again, this will aid in stabilizing yourself when transferring patients.
  • Don’t let the patient grab hold of your neck. 

In the end, it’s important to remember not to transfer more weight than you can handle. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you feel unequipped to transfer a patient on your own. It’s always better to ask for help than to have a greater risk of injury.