While I was taking care of Wayne in the apartment, I had to transfer him from the bed to the wheelchair often. This was a real chore, especially when he couldn’t stand or walk at all. The physical therapists gave me instructions that helped me to save my back.
When a patient can’t walk or even stand, it is up to the caregiver to assist the patient so that they don’t slip or fall. It is important to observe certain conditions when lifting a patient, to keep from injuring your back. The proper manner to transfer a patient is using the legs, not the back.
A belt is used by physical therapists, a strong woven belt about three inches wide, that fastens with Velcro. This belt is used to stabilize a patient being transferred from one place to another.
You place the belt around the patient’s waist and fasten it snugly. Place your feet around the patient’s feet to keep them from slipping and keep their feet controlled. Place your hands on each side of the patient, grabbing the belt from the bottom. If the patient can help, he should place his hands on your hips or around your wait. This gives the patient a secure feeling and he can help lift. Now, you are ready to transfer the patient from one place to another. Place the chair to the side of the patient, so that you can pivot him to the chair.
To protect your back, bend your legs in a semi-squat position and lift straight up, pivot the patient toward the chair and place him in the chair.
If the patient can assist you a little, have the patient grab the arm of the chair to assist in the transfer. There is a transfer board available through the hospital that makes it easier to slide the patient from bed to chair or chair to car. It works very well. You must have a wheelchair with a removable arm rest for this to work. You remove the armrest, place the board on the wheelchair and on the car seat, then slide the patient from the chair to the car seat. It makes it easy for you and the patient. I used this method with Wayne for quite awhile.
When Wayne was with me in the apartment, he used to stiffen up when I tried to transfer him from the bed to the chair, making it very difficult to get the job done. There were times when he slipped off the chair and slid to the floor. I used this method of lifting to get him from the floor to the chair. We are talking about dead weight, when the patient can’t help you. I would scoot him over to the chair and then grab the belt and lift with my legs, until I got his butt on the edge of the chair. I then pushed with my knees to help him slide to the back of the chair. It was difficult, but it worked and I didn’t hurt my back. It isn’t easy to lift 145 pounds of weight from the floor, but it can be done.
If the patient is lying on the floor in the fetal position, another option is placing a straight chair on its side under the patient’s butt, as though he were sitting on it. Then you roll him and the chair over, so that the patient is on the chair. Then lift the patient and the chair to a sitting position, watching that the patient doesn’t fall off the chair. Be sure to use your legs with this method too. It helps if you have assistance for this procedure. This is the way the emergency medical team got Wayne off the bathroom floor when he collapsed.
These are ways to help you help yourself when lifting your patient. Always take care of your back.