Moving your loved one in safety and comfort

Why is it important to move your loved one in safety and comfort?

This guidance is about moving, handling and positioning your loved one in safety and comfort for both patient and caregiver. Our aim is to minimise possible discomfort and disturbance for your loved one, and to maximise safety for you as well as them. We appreciate that family caregivers may have worries about not “getting it right”. They sometimes feel that their clumsiness and ignorance may hurt their loved one (and themselves). Your loved one will lose strength and mobility as they decline, although sometimes they may surprise you with sudden and unexpected but ultimately fleeting bouts of activity.

How to move your loved one in safety and comfort

One of the most important things to bear in mind is: don’t try to do more than you’re safely capable of doing on your own. You might accidently hurt your loved one, or injure yourself and that may limit your ability to continue to give care to your loved one. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance, regardless of your loved one’s size and weight.

Important: Don’t try to do more than you’re safely capable of doing on your own.

It’s normal to feel frustration and tiredness: you may be resting from exertion when your loved one wants to return to bed, go to the toilet or be too late for toilet.

Whilst you move your loved one keep checking they're ok and not in too much pain. You can ask your loved one what they are experiencing or hear them groaning or see them moving in pain and discomfort in bed. Unless you need to, don’t them move until they’re free of pain. Ask a Cottage Hospice volunteer for advice if you are unsure.

When moving your loved one, first check that there are no obstacles (e.g. a closed door, chair in way), then check that the floor is uncluttered and dry. Wear clothing which allows you to move freely and shoes that keep your feet squarely and safely on the ground.

Important: Check your path is clear before moving you loved one.

Watching the video above might help you achieve all of the following in safety and comfort, or if you're at Cottage Hospice you can ask a volunteer to help:

  • Achieving the right height and ‘angling’ for all concerned
  • Judging speed - all bed movements need to be done very slowly and with care
  • How to roll your loved one within the bed, for example, for turning them over, washing them, changing their pads and/or bedding and using a slipper bedpan
  • Judging effort required, so that rolling your loved one gently, makes it easier and helps prevent damage to your back. Even if they are small and slight, you are moving someone who, as they decline, is less able to help move themselves. Moving your loved one may strain your back and limbs, causing strain, discomfort and possibly injury.
  • Moving your loved one around the bed. Using the electric bed as an aid to moving your loved one in comfort and safety. This covers moving them up and down when they are slipping, positioning pillows for support, using the ability of the bed to adjust patient profile and how these various positions can help with making them more comfortable (eg knee bracing, elevated foot / head etc.)
  • Helping your loved one out of bed and onto a seat, that is a chair by the bed, a wheelchair or a portable commode) – and back
    • First get them to a sitting position on bed
    • Use the bed controls to match the height of bed to the height of chair
    • Make sure their feet are safely and firmly on the ground before making the transfer from bed to chair
  • Helping your loved one get to the bathroom - and back, with a walking frame or a wheelchair
  • Helping your loved one to take a shower
  • Hoists are available if you're at Cottage Hospice to help move your loved one. Ask one of our volunteers to show you how to use the hoist should you need it.


When and how often to move your loved one in safety and comfort

With time, your loved one’s body will be slowing down, so moving them will be less necessary and less desirable.

Pressure sores, sometimes called ‘bed sores’, are a worry when someone’s in bed for some time. They are caused by contact between the body and the bed, and tend to appear on buttocks, elbows, the back, hips and so on. In the final weeks or days of life, care is mainly about providing comfort and helping to maintain dignity as well as a sense of who they are.  Take a look at the topic 'Helping your loved one feel as clean, fresh and presentable as they would want' for more information about identifying bed sores.

Last reviewed:

Next review date: 01.04.2022