How Caregivers Use Transfer Aids: Wheelchair, Gait Belt, and Slide Board


Transferring patients to a chair/wheelchair 

Once the patient has adjusted to sitting at the side of the bed, they are ready to transfer to a chair or wheelchair. Indicate the patient’s stronger side. Furthermore, be sure to place the chair or wheelchair parallel to this side so that the patient can assist you with the transfer procedure. Always explain what you are going to do and how your patient can help you. Finally encourage them to do as much as possible to be as independent as possible. Always keep moving.

Safety Tips: Using the Wheelchair 

  • First, place a chair next to the patient’s stronger side before making the transfer.
  • Then put footrests out of the way before the patient gets in or out a chair.
  • Make sure both wheel brakes are locked into position before the patient gets in or out of the chair.
  • Replace footrests in proper position and assist the patient, as needed, to put feet on footrest after being seated.
  • Make sure that the patient is in a comfortable and safe sitting position before releasing the wheel brakes.
  • Release both wheel brakes before attempting to move the chair.
  • Make sure that the patient’s clothing or lap blanket does not trail on the floor or become caught in the wheels.


Transfer or Gait Belt

A transfer or gait belt is a belt worn by the patient and used by the caregiver to hold on to the patient during a transfer. It is used to help support a weak or unsteady patient to move or walk. Finally, apply the belt before beginning the transfer or before assisting the patient in walking.

Procedure for putting on a gait belt

  1. Explain what you are going to do.
  2. Wash your hands.
  3. Obtain gait belt.
  4. Assist patient to a sitting position on the side of the bed.
  5. Apply belt over clothing and around the waist.  Never apply over bare skin.
  6. Place belt buckles off center in the front or in the back, for the patients’ comfort.
  7. Tighten belt, using buckles; the belt should not be uncomfortable, cause pain, or cause breathing difficulties.
  8. For the female patient, check that their breasts are not caught under the belt.
  9. Prepare the patient for transfer.


Sliding Board 

You can use lots of things as a slide board. You may use a variety of flat objects, purchase a slide board from a medical supply company, use a leaf from the patient’s dining room table, or any smooth hard surface, that a patient can slide on and a board that can bridge from two surfaces. For patients who have difficulty standing or are unable to bear weight on their legs, the sliding board can be used to move the patient from one area to another.

Procedure for using a slide board 

  1. Explain what you going to do.
  2. Wash your hands.
  3. Obtain a gait belt.
  4. Assist the patient to a sitting position on the side of the bed.
  5. Allow the patient to push themselves onto the board.
  6. Assist the patient to scoot along the board to the other side.
  7. Keep their hands on top of the board, not around the edges, to prevent injury to the fingers.
  8. Direct the patient to hold on to you.
  9. Assist patient in removing robe and shoes; Slide and lower buttocks into bed or chair and slide back in bed.
  10. Make sure the patient is safe and comfortable.
  11. Place bed in the lowest position. (Raise side rails if required.)
  12. Wash your hands.
  13. Place robe and shoes in the closet.


Transferring a patient from bed to chair/wheelchair— standing transfer or using a gait belt


  • Gait belt
  • Robe and footwear


  1. Explain what you are going to do.
  2. Wash hands.
  3. Obtain the materials listed above.
  4. Provide privacy (close door, shut drapes, pull shades).
  5. If a gait belt is available, put it on now.
  6. Place the chair parallel to bed and on patient’s strong side.
  7. When using a wheelchair, lock brakes and move footrests out of the way.
  8. Lower bed, lock wheels, and lower rail on the side where you are working.
  9. Assist the patient, as needed, to sit on the side of the bed and put on robe and footwear.
  10. Stand directly in front of the patient, with your feet slightly apart.  Bend hips and knees so that you are level with the patient. Make sure patient’s feet are firmly on the floor.
  11. If you are using a gait belt, grasp transfer belt firmly on each side or place your arms under patient’s arms and around patients’ back, locking fingers together or clasping one hand over the other wrist.  Have patient hug your back, neck or shoulders.
  12. Lock your knees against patients’ to provide additional support and to prevent the knees from buckling.
  13. Bend your knees and ask the patient to rock with you as you count 1-2-3. Stand on the count of three.
  14. Count to 10 before continuing.  This allows time for the body to adjust to the standing position.
  15. Walk with the patient to the chair, taking small steps while guiding patient back to the chair.  Continue until chairs’ sitting surface touches back of patients’ legs.
  16. Have patient reach back and grasp the farthest arm of the chair, then the nearest arm.
  17. Bend your hips and knees while guiding the patient into the chair.
  18. Make sure the patient is safe and comfortable.
  19. Once in the wheelchair, replace footrests and have the patient put their feet on them.
  20. Place necessary items within reach.
  21. Wash hands.
  22. Record patients’ reaction to the procedure, the amount of time sitting in the chair, and any other observations.

Returning the Patient to the Bed

  1. First assist the patient to return to bed, whenever they need to.
  2. Explain what you are going to do and how the patient can help you.
  3. Wash your hands.
  4. Provide privacy.
  5. Prepare the bed; fold down the top bedding.
  6. Lower height of the bed to the lowest level.
  7. Then, place a chair parallel to the bed, as a result, the patient can move toward the strong side.
  8. If a wheelchair is used, lock the brakes and place the footrests out of the way.   If the bed has wheels, lock them.
  9. Direct the patient to:
  • hold on to the armrests.
  • slide to the edge of the chair.
  • push down on armrests, straighten legs, and stand up.
  • Take small steps while turning back to bed until the back of legs touch the bed.
  • reach back and place hands on the bed.
  • lower buttocks into bed and slide back in bed.
  1. Assist the patient to remove their robe and shoes; place in the closet.
  2. Make sure the patient is safe and comfortable.
  3. Finally, place the bed in the lowest position. (Raise side rails if required.)
  4. Wash your hands.

Drive Medical Cruiser III Light Weight Wheelchair with Various Flip Back Arm Styles and Front Rigging Options, Black, 20″

Posey Comfy-Seat, Description: Wheelchair

Days Curved Transfer Board for Wheelchair Users, Reinforced Plastic Slide Board, 27 5/8″ Long & Strong Slider Board with 336 lbs Weight Capacity, Transferring Board for Limited Mobility & Wheelchairs

Caregiver transferring patient|How caregivers use transfer aids: wheelchair, gait belts, and slide board