Performing Safe Transfers
Performing Safe Transfers in and out of an Ambassador recliner is inevitable. Even if it just means pressure-relieving or repositioning oneself in the chair. The chair is suited for people with severely limited mobility. Medical experts will still encourage some movement to prevent muscle atrophy, reduced circulatory flow and skin breakdown.
We are going to talk about techniques in performing safe transfers, whether that is independently or with the assistance from a caregiver.
First, you need to determine how much assistance is required for performing safe transfers:
- Is the user’s arms strong enough to assist with the transfer?
- Are they able to sit up on their own unsupported?
- Can the person weight-shift and scoot their hips forward in the chair without help?
- Can the person get to a standing position on their own?
- Ability to independently take a few steps forward or in a pivoted format?
Next, determine where the user is trying to go:
- Does the user want to perform a short transfer from the recliner to something close by like a commode or a wheelchair?
- Is the user preparing for safe transfers in order to leave the house?
- Is the user getting out of the recliner to go use the restroom?
By figuring out how much the individual can do on their own and where they are trying to go, you can next determine what type of assistive devices or equipment should be used to prevent falls or injuries by performing a safe transfer:
Also referred to as a transfer belt, a gait belt is placed around the user’s waist snuggly (i.e. you can fit at least two fingers between the belt and the person’s body). The gait belt can be used as just a precautionary measure or it can be used as leverage to pull the person during a transfer (i.e. pull into sitting, pull into standing). A gait belt should only be used on a person who will assist with their own transfer up to 50%. Individuals who require much more assist will require additional support.
Think about how much the user can do on their own. If they plan to get out of the recliner in order to walk around the house with relative ease, then maybe a cane is all they need for mild external support.
Maybe the user can walk on their own, but has had some scares or actual falls in the past. If that’s the case, the next step up would be applying a walker during the transfer. Note, make sure that the user avoids pulling to a stand at the walker with both hands on the walker. This will often cause the walker to come tumbling on top of the user. Encourage the user to push off of the recliner with one hand on the seat and only one hand on the walker handler.
Transferring to a wheelchair often means that the user has very limited standing and walking mobility. If this is the case, position the wheelchair at about a 45 degree angle to the front of the recliner. Check to make sure both brakes are on and that the wheels won’t slip. Remove the foot rests in order to make a clear path.
Commode or 3-in-1 commode:
If the user is trying to get to the toileting or showering facilities but has severely limited mobility, consider using a bedside commode or a 3-in-1 commode with wheels. The bedside commode can remain angled to the recliner for a quick stand-pivot transfer for toileting. A 3-in-1 commode can move the individual to the bathroom and into a walk-in shower space or over a stationery toilet in the bathroom. Remember, any transfer device with wheels must have the brakes locked before the transfer.
Using the recliner itself:
An Ambassador recliner can push the person into a gradual stand, which is very useful for persons who have a difficult time getting from sitting to a standing position on their own but can statically stand for a short time. Ensure to have the proper equipment is in place before standing the individual up with the recliner.
Hoist or mechanical lift:
A mechanical lift is for persons who require complete and total assist for their transfers. It’s the most expensive option to have in a private residence, but it will save caregivers unnecessary bodily strain. The sling is placed under the user and hooked to a hydraulic or an electric lift that slowly lifts the user from the recliner. The caregiver then rotates the user to place them in the other seating option like a wheelchair or a commode.
If a caregiver must assist with performing safe transfers, then proper body mechanics will save both the user and the caregiver from potential injury.
- Never attempt to help with a transfer alone if the individual requires more than 50% assist.
- Have all of the necessary equipment properly placed before even commencing the process, including a gait belt.
- Never ever allow the user to place their hands around your neck during a transfer; instead, cue them to place their hands on your upper arms.
If you have any concerns about transferring your loved one safely at home in and out of the recliner, contact a professional such as an occupational therapist or physiotherapist.