Caregivers often have to help the person they care for move around safely. Helping someone adjust their position slightly is called a reposition. For example, rolling over in bed, or sitting further back in a chair.
Moving a person to a different location is called a transfer. For example, getting into the bathtub or shower, standing up from a chair, moving from a bed to a chair, or moving from a wheelchair to the toilet.

Note: Caregivers should never lift the person they care for unless they have been trained to use equipment or machines to assist with this process. Transferring can be pushing, sliding, or supporting, but should not involve full lifting.

Caregivers can experience injuries when repositioning or transferring the person they care for. It’s important to practice these movements and get prepared before starting. Talk to a doctor, physiotherapist, personal support worker, or other health professionals if you are feeling uncomfortable with repositioning and transfers. 
Review the tips below and look for caregiver specific exercises in My Exercise Plan to strengthen muscles commonly used when repositioning and transferring.

Safe transfer tips for caregivers:

  • Go slow and plan with the person that is being transferred before moving.
  • Clear obstacles before making a transfer (i.e. electrical wires, shoes, loose carpet, etc.).
  • Before transferring, make sure transfer surfaces won’t move (i.e. put brakes on wheelchair or bed).
  • Get the person who is being moved to help with the transfer as much as possible (i.e. get them to push up on the arm rests of the chair).
  • Keep both feet flat on the floor and shoulder width apart when possible.
  • Bend knees and squat down to use the strength of both legs to move the person. Avoid bending the spine forward when lifting.
  • Keep the person that is being transferred as close to you as possible.
  • Do not twist your spine, step with your feet instead. Point your feet in the direction that is being moved.
  • Keep your head and shoulders upright.
  • When repositioning someone, push instead of pull. Keep your arms close to your body with elbows bent to prevent back injury.

Helpful Resources


Safe Transfers