Safety, Health and Wellbeing

Assisting a client to use the wheelchair

Our role is to develop and assist in the implementation of the UWA safety, health and wellbeing programs in order to minimise the risk of injury, illness and property damage.

We provide consultancy and other services to promote best practice and legislative compliance in all University and related activities.

Further Information

If you are supervising a person's transfer into a wheelchair, the only assistance required of you should be appropriate verbal prompts.

  1. Assisting a client to transfer into the wheelchair
  2. Assisting a client in transferring out of a wheelchair
  3. Assisting a client in transferring sideways from a wheelchair to anther form of seating
  4. Negotiating kerbs

Assisting a client to transfer into the wheelchair

  1. Make sure that both of the brakes are ‘on’, and the front casters are swivelled forwards.
  2. Fold up both footplates and swing them to the sides and out of the way.
  3. If possible, get another person to hold the handles of the wheelchair so that it will not move. If this is not possible then stand behind the chair and hold the handles yourself.
  4. Ask the client to stand then, with both hands on the front of the armrests, get them to lower him/herself onto the seat.
  5. Swing the footrests to the front and fold down the footplates. If required, assist the client to place their feet on the footplates, with their heels well back.
  6. Ensure that the client’s elbows are not sticking outside the wheelchair when going through doorways. Also ensure that their hands are on their laps and not hanging outside the chair where they can catch in the spokes.

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Assisting a client in transferring out of a wheelchair

  1. Back the wheelchair so that the front casters swivel forwards.
  2. Make sure that both the brakes are on.
  3. Fold up both footplates and swing them to the sides, out of the way.
  4. If possible, get another person to hold the handles of the wheelchair so that it will not move. If this is not possible then stand behind the chair and hold the handles yourself.
  5. Ask the client to move forwards on the seat.
  6. Ask the client to place both feet firmly on the ground, slightly apart and with one foot further back.
  7. Ask the client to place both hands on the front of the armrests, then get them to lean forwards with their head and shoulders over their knees to give balance. From this position they should be able to push themselves to standing. Always encourage the client to take their time with each step of the procedure.

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Assisting a client in transferring sideways from a wheelchair to another form of seating

  1. Place the wheelchair alongside, and at 45°, to the chair/toilet/bed/car that they wish to transfer to.
  2. If possible back the wheelchair up slightly so that the front casters swivel forwards.
  3. Ensure that both the brakes are on.
  4. Fold up both footplates and swing them to the sides out of the way.
  5. Remove the armrest on the side to which the client is transferring.
  6. If possible, get another person to hold the handles of the wheelchair so that it will not move. If this is not possible then stand behind the chair and hold the handles yourself.
  7. Ask the client to place one hand on the remaining armrest and the other palm down, on a stable area of the surface they are transferring to.
  8. Ask the client to move forwards on the seat.
  9. Ask the client to lean slightly forwards, push up and slide their bottom across to the other surface.

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Negotiating kerbs

Whenever possible, it is best to avoid kerbs. Instead, always try to use dropped kerbs or ramps. If a kerb is unavoidable then the following precautions should be taken.

Pushing an occupied wheelchair down a kerb

It is safer to go down a kerb backwards. It requires less strength and gives a gentler ride. Care should, however, be taken due to the weight of the chair and because the task involves stepping backwards into a road.

  1. Practise with an empty wheelchair first.
  2. Always keep the wheelchair user informed about what you are intending to do.
  3. Make sure the road is clear, and then back the wheelchair to the edge of the kerb.
  4. Ensure that the chair is lined up at 90° to the kerb.
  5. Slowly roll the rear wheels down from the kerb and onto the road surface, making sure that both wheels touch down at the same time.
  6. When the front casters are at the edge of the kerb, push down and forward on the tipping lever with your foot while gently pulling back on the handles and at the same time. This will balance the wheelchair and its occupant on the rear wheels. Do not tip the wheelchair back more than necessary.
  7. Carefully pull the wheelchair further back into the road and, when the occupant's feet are clear of the kerb, gently lower the front to the road. Check that the road is clear before turning around and crossing.

Pushing an occupied wheelchair up a kerb

It is safer to go up a kerb forwards; it requires less strength and gives a gentler ride.

  1. Practise with an empty wheelchair first.
  2. Always tell the person in the wheelchair what you are about to do.
  3. When the occupant's feet are nearly touching the kerb, push down and forwards on the tipping lever with your foot while gently pulling back on the handles and at the same time. This will balance the wheelchair and its occupant on the rear wheels.
  4. When the front casters are just clear of the kerb, push the wheelchair forwards until the casters rest on the pavement. Do not tip the wheelchair back more than necessary.
  5. Push the wheelchair forwards until the back wheels just touch the kerb and then lift up on the handles as you continue pushing forwards to place the rear wheels on the pavement. The occupant can help with this stage by pushing forwards on the handrims (if they are capable of doing so).

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