How To Safely Use a Wheelchair with a Patient or Loved One

Disabled person working

When asked to move someone in a wheelchair, you are being entrusted with that person’s safety. Because of this, traveling with and moving a loved one or a patient using a wheelchair is a big responsibility that should not be trifled with. Here’s how to move people in a wheelchair safely.

  1. Build a ramp. Most homes and are not built with handicapped and disabled people’s comfort and concerns in mind. Once a loved one needs to be moved around in a wheelchair, however, getting a ramp installed in your house is of utmost importance, especially if the person is permanently disabled. Even if the person will only be confined to the wheelchair for a few months or weeks, building a ramp at home ensures that other people in wheelchair will be able to access the home easily. There are some agencies that will provide easy to install ramps, such as Goodwill. You can also ask a local carpenter to create a wooden ramp for you, although cement ramps will last a longer time.
  2. Ramp specs. When getting a ramp installed, make sure that it is four feet wide, to accommodate most wheelchairs. It should also have railings that are 42 inches high. Generally, the ramps should be a foot long for every inch of height from the ground up. This will make it easy for people to push a wheelchair up.
  3. Moving a patient from a bed. One of the most challenging parts of moving patients in a wheelchair is when you need to transfer them into the wheelchair from a bed. To do this, you need to place the chair beside the bed in locked position. Although an able person can do the task alone, it is best to have another person for support. Put the patient in sitting position on the bed and then place your arms under the person’s armpits to support the patient. Pull forward with the patient secured in your arms, with your legs on the patient’s knees. Use your knees and legs to maneuver the patient’s own legs into the wheelchair.
  4. Transporting a patient on a wheelchair. Once the patient is in the wheelchair, remember to be extra careful as you move the patient around. You need to make sure that the patient’s feet are tucked in the foot rest if your wheelchair does not have this feature, install one or buy a wheelchair with a foot rest to prevent the patient’s feet from dangling. Make sure that the patient’s arms, hands, and elbows are inside the chair, resting on the lap to prevent it from bumping on walls or coming into contact with the wheel. When moving up or down ramps, you should move backwards so that you are higher than the wheelchair and the patient when moving up ramps, and lower than the wheelchair and patient when moving downwards. This will give you better support and control of the wheelchair.

Make sure that you have an extra wheelchair near the patient’s bed so that you can easily transport the patient in case of an emergency.


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