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

More Resources

Removing Personal Protective Equipment

It is important to follow the correct procedure while removing personal protective equipment to avoid contaminating your skin or clothing. The most common source of contamination in this process stems from improper removal of gloves. Gloves are often the most soiled piece of equipment. To avoid contaminating your skin or the other equipment worn, gloves should always be removed first. Then remove the goggles, gown, and mask, in that order.

Making an Occupied Bed

If a patient is bedridden or on bedrest, the bed linens will need to be changed while the patient is in the bed. For safety reasons, the nurse’s aid should avoid making an occupied bed if the patient is able to get out of bed. Bed linens should be changed according to the facility’s policy or anytime they are wet or soiled.

Logrolling the Resident

Logrolling is a technique used to roll a resident onto their side without the resident helping, and while keeping the resident’s spine in a straight line. This is especially important for residents who have had spinal surgery or injury.

Caring for a Patient’s Dentures

For patients with dentures, care of the dentures is just as important as brushing natural teeth. Good denture hygiene and fit helps prevent oral irritation and infection.

Applying Restraints

Restraints have very strict guidelines for use due to the number of complications that can result. Use of restraints is associated with increased physical and psychosocial health issues. Restraints are only considered necessary when restraint-free alternatives have failed and the patient or others are at risk of harm without the restraints. It is illegal to use restraints for the staff’s convenience or to punish the patient.

Measuring the Apical Pulse

The apical pulse rate is the most accurate non-invasive measurement of heart rate because it is measured directly over the apex of the heart. Apical pulse is preferred in cases when the radial pulse is difficult to palpate, when the pulse is irregular, greater than 100 beats per minute, or less than 60 beats per minute when measured by other means (electronic, radial, etc.).