Assistive Devices for Transfers

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Assistive devices are required if a person is unable to safely move from one location to another; for example moving from a chair to a bed. Transfers are commonly done to help assess mobility or to progress mobility in an inpatient or community setting. Transfers are a good way to support someone become more independent with intimate tasks such as toileting when they have reduced mobility, for example following a CVA or long hospital stay.

Assistive devices can be used for rehabilitation (short term) or for long term use at home or in a care setting.

Types of Assistive Devices[edit | edit source]

Slide Sheets[edit | edit source]

A sliding sheet or any short sheet can be used as a sliding aid. There are also specially designed roller sheets. These are made of special fabrics that have low-friction inner surfaces. The layers of fabric roll or slide over one another during the patient transfer.

Transfer Belt[edit | edit source]

A transfer belt is placed around the patient's waist and secured snugly. The belt can be adjusted to fit different patients and usually fastens with velcro and a buckle. If the transfer belt has loops, hold these loops to support the patient more firmly during transfer; if the belt does not have loops, hold onto the belt itself. You should use a transfer belt with patients who can partially support their own weight but need assistance. Studies show that using a transfer belt increases patient satisfaction. Lifting patients manually without a transfer belt may cause the patient discomfort under the arms. Patients also prefer the transfer belt because they feel more secure.

Slide Boards / Transfer Board[edit | edit source]

Patient and carer using a slide board

Transfer boards are also used, which are small pieces of rigid wood or plastic used to bridge the gap between two surfaces.. These may use various low-friction or roller technology transfer boards also available so that the patient can be pulled across easily. Slide boards or banana boards can be used for patients who do not have the physical strength to achieve a stand in their lower limbs but have good upper limb and trunk strength. These can also be useful in patients who are lower limb amputees.

It is helpful to have a wheelchair or normal chair that has removeable arms to allow the board to be positioned correctly.

Turn Tables / Manual Standing Aids[edit | edit source]

Most turn tables or wheels have knee blocks and handles to allow the person to participate. Some have the option of a pivoting seat paddles to allow the person to sit down whilst being moved from one position to another.[1] Most transfer aids have a weight limit but their limiting factor is normally their width therefore bariatric alternatives are available.

The aim of transfer aids is to help simulate the pattern for sit to stand as well as reduce the amount of support a person requires from carers. They are common place within a rehabilitation setting as they can be used as part of a strengthening programme.

Sit to Stand Devices[edit | edit source]

Sit to stand devices are used to assist patients from a sitting to standing position. They come in many forms but their aim is to allow a person to actively participate in their stand whilst providing full support. These can either allow someone to stand onto a platform or directly onto the floor to allow for stepping practice.


Hoists[edit | edit source]

Hoist and sling

A hoist is a mechanical lift or hydraulic lift, that can be free standing or attached to a ceiling, used to move patients who cannot bear weight, who are unpredictable or unreliable, or who have a medical condition that does not allow them to stand or assist with moving. Hoists can be either mobile or fixed to a ceiling track. Hoists are used in conjunction with a sling, which is specific to the brand of hoist, the patient and the aim of hoisting for example a leave in sling, a hygiene sling, a disposable sling (often used in a healthcare setting) or an amputee sling. If someone requires a hoist then it needs to reflected in their moving and handling care plan ensuring the correct sling size. [5]

Prescription[edit | edit source]

Physiotherapists should assess patients mobility as soon as able when they are an inpatient or following a major trauma event or neurological event[6]. The use of transfer aids should be documented and handed over to the multi-disciplinary team along with how much assistance the patient requires to use each transfer aid in order to follow manual handling guidelines[7].

As the patient undergoes rehabilitation the changes to which aids the patient requires should be discussed with the patient as well as the MDT. Communication of the progress of mobility is essential to increase independence and also reduce the risk of falls or other hospital or community acquired health problems. [8]

Usage[edit | edit source]

The usage of these transfer aids will vary depending on the needs of the patient and their progress with physiotherapy with the end goal to return to their previous mobility level (baseline).

Some patients may always require the use of aids to transfer due to their medical condition or frailty. Although with physiotherapy and exercise intervention this can be improved, however, will vary depending on the individual and their overall health.[9]

Maintenance[edit | edit source]

It is important to check that aids are:

  • in date for servicing
  • person intending to use it is under the maximum weight limit (safe working load)
  • There are appropriate numbers of staff using the aid
  • staff have competent training in manual handling and using the aid

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Sara Stedy - Arjo (Accessed 23 October 2020)
  2. Complete Care shop. Secure Turn Patient Turner - Patient Transfer From Chair To Wheelchair. Available from: [last accessed 26/12/19
  3. Etac R82 UK. Etac R82: Molift Raiser standing transfer with RaiserStrap with sleeve. Available from: [last accessed: 25/4/2017]
  4. Arjo Global. Arjo – Patient Handling - Sara Plus demonstration video. Available from: [last accessed 8/4/2020]
  5. HSE Getting to grips with hoisting people (Accessed 23 October 2020)
  6. Pandullo SM, Spilman SK, Smith JA, Kingery LK, Pille SM, Rondinelli RD, Sahr SM. Time for critically ill patients to regain mobility after early mobilization in the intensive care unit and transition to a general inpatient floor. Journal of critical care. 2015 Dec 1;30(6):1238-42.
  7. Ellis T, Katz DI, White DK, DePiero TJ, Hohler AD, Saint-Hilaire M. Effectiveness of an inpatient multidisciplinary rehabilitation program for people with Parkinson disease. Physical therapy. 2008 Jul 1;88(7):812-9.
  8. Bush K, Barbosa H, Farooq S, Weisenthal SJ, Trayhan M, White RJ, Noyes EI, Ghoshal G, Zand MS. Predicting hospital-onset Clostridium difficile using patient mobility data: A network approach. Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology. 2019 Dec;40(12):1380-6.
  9. De Vries NM, Staal JB, Teerenstra S, Adang EM, Rikkert MG, Nijhuis-van der Sanden MW. Physiotherapy to improve physical activity in community-dwelling older adults with mobility problems (Coach2Move): study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials. 2013 Dec;14(1):1-9.