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Transfer—Wheelchair to Toilet

If your loved one will use a wheelchair, you need to know about transfers. For safety’s sake, learn how to help your loved one in and out of the wheelchair. One basic method is shown here.

Healthcare provider using gait belt to help patient transfer from wheelchair to toilet.

Healthcare provider using gait belt to help patient sit on toilet from wheelchair.



1  Stand the person up:

  • Lock the wheelchair.

  • Be sure the person’s feet are under his or her body.

  • Grasp the back of a belt or pants and lift.

2  Move them onto the toilet:

  • Keep the person’s weaker knee between your legs.

  • Pivot the person around in front of the toilet. Always transfer toward the person’s stronger side.

  • Gently sit the patient down onto the toilet.

  • Help the patient adjust his or her clothing.

  • Never pull on the person’s weaker arm or lift the person by the armpits.

Important safety tips

Lifting a person can be hard on your back. To reduce the risk of a back injury, remember to do the following:

  • Organize the steps in your head before you move.

  • Explain the steps of the move and ask the person to tell you when they are ready to transfer.

  • Keep the person close to you.

  • Keep your knees bent and your back straight.

  • Use a transfer belt to provide a firm hold, rather than clasping your hands behind the person’s back

  • Get help when you need it.

  • Ask to practice with supervision

Online Medical Reviewer: Bellendir, Trina, MSPT, CLT
Online Medical Reviewer: Image reviewed by StayWell medical illustration team.
Online Medical Reviewer: Joseph, Thomas N., MD
Date Last Reviewed: 7/1/2021
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