How to Safely Move The Person in Your Care: Bed and Car Transfer Safety for Caregivers

If you are a family caregiver, you may find yourself in the position of needing to move your loved one from one place to another. This could be for any number of reasons, such as getting them out of bed and into a wheelchair, or transferring them from their wheelchair into the car. Regardless of the reason, it is important that you know how to do this safely in order to avoid injury to yourself or your loved one. Here are some of our best tips for caregivers responsible for the activities of daily living: how to safely move the person in your care. Let’s dive in.


What are the Risks When Moving Your Loved One

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nurses most frequently injure themselves when moving patients. When moving your loved one, there are many risks of injury for both you and the loved one in your care. You can experience sprains, muscle strains or pulls, bone fractures or breaks, and more.


According to Elder Care, caregivers most frequently injure their backs, neck, or shoulders doing motions such as:

  • Helping a loved one up from a seated position

  • Getting them out of bed

  • Bending over for an extended period of time

These injuries are associated with both inadequate strength and improper technique.


Safety First: How to Move the Person in Your Care

To avoid injury, you’ll want to avoid both of the aforementioned causes: inadequate strength and improper technique, since these are the most common ways you and your loved one could get injured. If you’re injured/unable to safely handle the transfer of your loved one, they’re more likely to fall, get dropped, or be pulled in an unsafe way and end up injured as well.


Here are a few things to keep in mind when moving your loved one:


Use proper lifting techniques

When lifting, be sure to use your legs, not your back. Squat down and take hold of your loved one before standing up. Maintain good posture and wear grippy/solid shoes.


Work on your health and strength

Exercise can increase your strength and flexibility and help to maintain your health long term. This strength will help you use proper lifting techniques and avoid muscle strain as you care for your loved one.


Consider using a transfer belt

A transfer or gait belt is a wide belt that goes around the waist and can be used to help move someone from one position to another. It provides added support and stability, which can be helpful when moving someone who is unsteady on their feet.


Go slowly and carefully

When moving your loved one, take your time and be careful not to jostle them too much. Make sure their head is supported at all times so that they do not get injured, dizzy, or nauseous.


Have everything ready before starting the transfer

Make sure you have everything you need within reach before starting the transfer process. This could include items like a wheelchair, transfer belt, or pillows for added support.


Communicate with your loved one throughout the process

Let them know what you are doing every step of the way so that they can cooperate and assist with the movement if possible. This will also help them feel more comfortable and less anxious about the process.


Don’t be afraid to ask for help

If your loved one is too heavy for you to responsibly lift, or requires a lot of stability and balance (if, for example, they cannot hold up their own weight), don’t be afraid to ask for help. You may need to hire in-home care to assist with mobility in order for your loved one to maintain a sense of independence while aging in place.


If it becomes too much for you, it may be time to consider a better-equipped facility. This is often the most beneficial choice, as it will help them maintain a better quality of life.


Closing Thoughts

Moving your loved one around does not have to be a daunting task. By following these simple tips, you can ensure that the process is safe and smooth for both you and your loved one. Remember to take your time, use proper lifting techniques, and communicate throughout the process so that everyone remains calm and stress-free.


For further reading and resources, we invite you to check out our free library of information for family caregivers by clicking here. You are also welcome to call us at 800-543-8312 to find out more about how we can support you on your caregiving journey.

If you are a caregiver in Orange County, please reach out to us. We would be happy to provide you with information on our Center and the many services we offer.


Additional Reading: How to Get Paid to Be a Caregiver

If you are a caregiver, we recommend you check out our article about getting paid to be a family caregiver. Becoming a caregiver is expensive–out-of-pocket costs average in the thousands each year for a family caregiver. The state of California offers several paths to receiving at least subsidized assistance, so click here to learn more about how to get paid to be a caregiver.