Looking for guidance on how to transfer from a wheelchair to a toilet safely? Then read on!
Recent studies on patient safety during transfers show that many injuries can be avoided with proper techniques and precautions (and with my years of being a caregiver, I’ve seen this first-hand!) …
In this post, I’ve collated insights, best practices, and essential steps to make this process as seamless as possible for you.
Keep scrolling to learn the 4 Quick & Easy methods of an optimal transfer!
Table of Contents
- Proper positioning and use of aids can significantly reduce transfer risks.
- Regular practice and clear communication between caregiver and patient are vital.
- Grab bars and non-slip mats can enhance safety during transfers.
4 Methods to Transfer from Wheelchair to Toilet
For wheelchair users, a range of reliable methods exist for toilet transfers. Understanding how wheelchair users navigate plane toilets is an essential aspect of enhancing accessibility and comfort during travel.
The sit-to-stand lift is notable for its mechanized support, the squat pivot leverages inherent leg strength, the slide board ensures a seamless slide, and the transfer disc is ideal for those who prefer a pivot approach.
Let’s look at these four fantastic ways more closely…
#1 Sit-to-Stand Lift (Recommended)
When transferring from a wheelchair to a toilet, one of the most recommended methods is using a sit-to-stand lift.
This assistive device provides a safe and efficient way to help individuals who have difficulty standing or lack upper body strength to transfer independently.
To perform a sit-to-stand transfer, follow these steps:
1. Position the sit-to-stand lift next to the wheelchair, ensuring it is locked and secure.
2. Assist the individual in shifting their weight forward, placing their feet as close to the footplates of the lift as possible.
3. Engage the lift’s lifting mechanism, slowly raising the individual to stand.
4. Guide the individual to turn and face the toilet, using the wheelchair armrests as support.
5. Gradually lower the individual onto the toilet, ensuring they are seated comfortably.
6. Use a gait belt or other appropriate securing mechanism, if necessary, to provide additional support during the transfer.
7. Reverse the steps to return the individual to their wheelchair after they have finished using the toilet.
Using a sit-to-stand lift for wheelchair-to-toilet transfers provides stability and safety and reduces strain on the individual and the caregiver.
Skip to this video for a clever breakdown…
Now, let’s discuss the squat pivot transfer…
# 2 Squat Pivot Transfer
When shifting from a wheelchair to a toilet, the squat pivot transfer is a favored method. Here’s how to do it step-by-step:
- Positioning: Park the wheelchair beside the toilet. Make sure the side closest to the toilet is aligned. For security, always lock the wheelchair’s brakes.
- Preparation for Support: The person in the wheelchair should place one hand on the wheelchair’s armrest. The other hand should rest on either the toilet seat or an available grab bar.
- Initiating the Stand: With feet firmly planted on the ground, begin shifting weight onto the legs, readying to rise to a standing position.
- Pivoting: Once upright, pivot the body using the hips. It’s essential to keep the feet stationary during this phase.
- Sitting Down: Carefully lower yourself onto the toilet seat. Throughout this motion, focus on maintaining balance and control.
- Safety First: Always prioritize safety. Using the correct method and pacing yourself can lead to a successful squat pivot transfer.
- Additional Support: Consider using a gait belt or another supportive tool to help with the transfer.
For a quick refresher, check out this video.
PRO TIP: Always consult a healthcare professional or occupational therapist for personalized instructions and recommendations.
Next, let’s learn how to use a slide board…
#3 Use a slide board
A slide board is a simple but effective device that enables wheelchair users to transfer to and from various surfaces without excessive strain or risk of falling. Here’s how to use it:
1. Position the slide board: Place the slide board bridge perpendicular to the edge of the wheelchair seat and the toilet seat.
2. Bracing and support: Ensure the wheelchair’s brakes are engaged, and if needed, have a caregiver or assistant stabilize the wheelchair.
3. Scoot forward: Scoot to the edge of the wheelchair seat, keeping your feet closest to the toilet. Grab the wheelchair armrest for stability.
4. Lower your knees: Gradually lower them, keeping them bent and in line with your feet, so they touch the toilet seat or a commode.
5. Slide across: With one hand firmly grasping the slide board’s handle, slowly shift your weight onto the board and slide your buttocks across, maintaining a seated position.
6. Adjust and stabilize: Once positioned on the toilet seat, ensure your feet are firmly planted on the ground, and if necessary, use a grab bar or the wheelchair’s armrests for added stability.
Remember, practice makes perfect. Take your time, and if needed, seek assistance from a healthcare professional or caregiver until you feel comfortable performing the slide board transfer independently.
Go to this video for a nutshell review.
Next, let’s discover how to use the transfer disc approach…
#4 Transfer Disc
A transfer disc (pivot disc), or a swivel seat, is a helpful assistive device for individuals who use a wheelchair and need assistance transferring to the toilet. A transfer disc is a round disc that rotates smoothly, allowing for easy movement and transfer.
To use a transfer disc for a wheelchair-to-toilet transfer, follow these steps:
1. Position the wheelchair close to the toilet, ensuring the wheelchair’s brakes are safely engaged.
2. Have the individual sit on the transfer disc with their feet closest to the toilet.
3. Ensure that the individual’s seated position is stable and comfortable.
4. Assist by gently holding onto the individual’s gait belt or waist, if needed, to ensure support and stability.
5. Encourage the individual to use their legs and core muscles to pivot or swivel on the disc facing towards the toilet.
6. Guide the individual as they safely lower themselves onto the toilet seat with their arms supported on the wheelchair armrests or an elevated toilet seat, if needed.
7. Once the transfer is complete, ensure the individual is comfortable and safe on the toilet.
Get more tips in this video.
Remember to always communicate with the individual throughout the transfer process, providing reassurance and support as needed.
Skip to the next section for more tips…
1. Can these methods be self-administered?
Some techniques, like using a slide board, can be self-administered. Others might require caregiver assistance.
2. Is the Sit to Stand Lift suitable for all?
Mostly, it’s best for those with some leg strength and requiring assessment.
3. How important is practicing these transfers?
Absolutely crucial. Practice builds confidence, ensures safety, and refines technique.
Now that you know how to transfer from wheelchair to toilet, you’re all set But not without a proper wrap-up…
Transferring from a wheelchair to a toilet may seem daunting, but it can be done safely and efficiently with the right techniques and assistive devices .
Whether using a transfer board, gait belt, or a mechanical lift, always prioritize safety and seek assistance from a caregiver or healthcare professional if needed.
Remember, practice and proper technique are key to achieving a successful transfer.
1. Barbareschi G, Holloway C. An investigation of factors affecting the performance of wheelchair transfers. Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology. 2018;14:479–88.
2. Akyol E, Paskevicius A, Ono K, Watanabe M. A STUDY ON UNDERSTANDING OF WHEELCHAIR TRANSFERRING ACTION Comparison of Transferring Action Between Manual and Electric Wheelchair Users. THE SCIENCE OF DESIGN BULLETIN OF JSSD [Internet]. 2013;20. Available from: https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jssdj/61/1/61_1_1/_pdf/-char/ja