Transfer Board Use

A transfer board is a smooth, rectangular board. Transfer boards act like a bridge, helping people with limited mobility move more easily from one sitting surface to another. Transfers can be made between chairs, wheelchairs, shower seats, and beds. Square pads and gait belts may also be used to provide additional support during the moving process. One or two helpers are needed to complete the move safely. These instructions provide you with information on proper transfer board use.


Position the chair:

  • When transferring from a hospital bed, make sure the top of the bed is slightly higher than the chair. Lower the guard rail on the bed if it is blocking the path to the chair.

  • Position the chair beside the bed. The front of the chair should be facing the bed at a 45 degree angle. If possible, the helper's stronger side should be closest to the chair.

  • When using a wheelchair:

  • Remove the footrests.

  • Remove the armrest closest to the bed.

  • Lock the wheels.

  • Make sure there is enough room for the person's legs to pivot onto the floor.

When helping a person move, always start by clearly communicating what you will be doing. Allow the person to help as much as he or she can. Only offer as much help as the person needs. If the person is unable to move from lying down to sitting up at the edge of the bed, follow these instructions:

  • Stand at the side of the bed.

  • Gently grasp the person's shoulder and hip furthest from you or the square pad underneath his or her trunk. Pull and roll the person toward you until the person is lying on his or her side. Allow the top knee to bend slightly.

  • Drop the person's legs over the edge of the bed while helping and supporting the upper body into a seated position.

  • Secure a gait belt around the person's waist.

  • A second helper may also give support from behind.

  • Scoot the person to the edge of the bed, either by pulling the square pad or by gently pulling forward on the person's hips. The person should have his or her feet resting on the ground.

Position the transfer board and transfer the person:

  • Gently lean the person away from the chair so you can slide a third of the transfer board under the person's hips on the side closest to the chair. When using a square pad, place the board under the pad. When not using a pad, place a small towel over the board to allow a smoother glide.

  • Place the other end of the transfer board on the chair seat so it reaches into the middle of the chair.

  • The helper's leg that is closest to the bed should be between the legs of the person being transferred. The helper's other leg should be closer to the chair.

  • Ask the person to push on the transfer board with his or her hands to lift up the hips. Make sure he or she does not grab the sides of the board to avoid pinching a hand underneath the board.

  • Grab the pad, belt, or hips to help the person slide across the board and onto the chair.

  • Release the person to a comfortable, stable position.

  • Staying in front of the person, gently lean him or her away from the transfer board to remove the board. Smooth out the pad or towel.

  • When using a wheelchair, put the armrest and footrests back in place.

  • Remove the gait belt once the person is secure in the chair.


Reverse the directions for moving from a bed to a chair. However, the bed should be positioned slightly lower than the chair, if possible. Some people may get tired and feel weak after sitting upright, even in a wheelchair. The person being transferred should consider sitting upright for only short periods of time so he or she can help more during the moving process. This can help the person feel less fearful and make an accident less likely to occur.


Choose a chair that is firm and does not have armrests. The two chairs should be close to the same height. Follow the same directions you used for transferring from a bed to a chair.


  • Be cautious with any catheters or other supplies that need to be transferred along with the person.

  • Both the person and the helper should wear nonslip shoes.

  • The helper should bend at the knees and use the lower body to help with lifting.

  • Contact a caregiver if you are having trouble performing transfers with a transfer board.