Chapter 3: Help with mobility and movement

Moving from a bed to a chair

Mom used to say that the change of scenery from sitting up in her chair rather than being in bed gave her a change in perspective.

It is important to encourage the person who is ill to move from lying in bed to sitting in a chair if this is possible. The person might welcome the change and may feel better sitting to receive visitors. Click on each phrase below to review the steps involved in helping a person who can stand.

  1. If the bed can be raised, raise the bed to slightly above chair height
  2. If the bed has wheels, make sure they are locked.
  3. First let the person know that you will be raising them up in bed. Raise the bed or gently place pillows behind them to raise them into as close to a sitting position as they can manage.
  4. Ensure both you and the person who is ill have non-slip footwear on.
  5. Move the wheelchair as close to the bed as possible, and make sure there are no obstacles between the bed and the chair. Ensure the wheels of the chair are locked, the foot petals have been turned up or removed, and any other equipment they need is readily available. For example, if the person uses a cane, have it close by so they can support themselves.

Have the person (or help the person) move their legs to the side of the bed. Help them sit up on the side of the bed, and ensure their feet are firmly on the floor.

  1. Move slowly and allow the person some time to adjust to the position changes.
  2. Ask them to place their hands on the edge of the bed or on the arm rest of the chair, and to push up when you count to three.
  3. Face the person who is ill and place your feet about shoulder width apart, outside of the person’s legs.
  4. Standing as close as you can, bend your knees and move toward them.
  5. Put your arms around their back, enclosing their arms.
  6. Count to three and stand up with the person. Be sure to use your legs, not your back.
  7. Wait a few seconds to make sure the person is not dizzy. Turn together and pivot until their back is facing the chair where they will be sitting.
  8. Shuffle toward the chair until the person can feel the chair. Ask them to place their hands on the arms of the chair. Then lower together until the person is sitting in the chair.

*The technique for getting the person who is ill back into bed is the exact reverse of this. 

Watch the video for a demonstration and tips on moving the person who is ill from a bed to a wheelchair.

What may help

It is difficult to get someone back into bed after they are exhausted, so check with the person to see when they are starting to feel tired. Pay attention to your own physical limitations.

If the person cannot stand on their own, it is NOT safe to use the above technique.

Talk with a healthcare provider about other options. These may include a transfer belt with a slide board or a mechanical lift. All options should be demonstrated for safe use before using at home with a friend or family member’s help.