Transferring the Resident from a Bed with a Mechanical Lift

Written by Hollie Finders, RN
Hollie Finders is a registered nurse with years of experience working in the health care field. She has degrees in both biochemistry and nursing. After working with patients of all ages, Hollie now specializes in pediatric intensive care nursing. Hollie’s LinkedIn


Equipment needed: mechanical lift, lift sling, co-worker, and chair or wheelchair.

  1. Perform hand hygiene.
  2. Explain the procedure to the resident and ask for his or her assistance in following directions.
  3. Place a chair or wheelchair next to the bed. The chair should be at the head of the bed and facing the foot of the bed. Lock the wheels of the chair or wheelchair, if applicable.
  4. With the resident in a supine position, place a lift sling underneath the resident by turning the resident to one side and then the other and tucking the sling underneath. Smooth out all folds and wrinkles.
  5. Ensure the bottom of the sling is even with the resident’s knees.
  6. Widen the base of the mechanical lift to its maximum width. Slide the base of the lift under the resident’s bed on the side to which you will be moving the resident. By doing so, the lift’s arms should be directly over the resident.
  7. Lower the lift’s arms until the sling’s straps can easily be attached to the arm’s hooks.
  8. Cross the resident’s arms across his or her chest.
  9. Attach all straps to their corresponding hooks.
  10. With your coworker supporting the resident in the sling, begin slowly lifting the resident using the mechanical lift.
  11. Just after the resident is lifted off the bed, pause to ensure the resident has settled safely into the sling.
  12. Proceed raising and moving the lift until the resident is positioned over the chair. Your coworker should continue to support the resident while moving.
  13. Slowly lower the resident into the chair. Your coworker may need to help guide the resident safely into the chair.
  14. Unhook the sling’s straps from the lift’s arms.
  15. Leave the sling underneath the resident to be used when transferring the resident back to the bed.
  16. Boost the resident up in the chair, if needed. Assist him or her into a comfortable position.
  17. Transport the resident by wheelchair or ensure the call light is within the resident’s reach.
  18. Perform hand hygiene.
  19. Document the procedure in the resident’s chart and report any changes in the resident’s condition to the nurse.

Important Information About Mechanical Lifts

A mechanical lift is used to transfer residents who cannot support their own weight [1]. When used properly, mechanical lifts prevent injuries for both residents and health care workers. It is important that a nurse’s assistant be trained to use the mechanical lift before attempting to operate it. Most facilities require at least two health care workers to assist when using a mechanical lift. One staff member should operate the lift, while the other should support and monitor the resident during the transfer. Always check your facility’s policy before operating the lift, and familiarize yourself with the lift’s instructions, as each lift model may vary slightly.


1. Guidelines for Nursing Homes