Care and support guide

Moving and handling the person you care for

If you look after someone with an illness or a disability, you may need to help them move around.

It's essential that you know about safe moving and handling so you don't hurt yourself or them.

For example, you may find that you need to help an ill or disabled person in the following areas:

In the bedroom 

  • getting in or out of bed
  • turning over in bed
  • sitting up in bed

In the bathroom

  • bathing
  • showering
  • using the toilet

Elsewhere 

  • sitting in a chair
  • standing
  • walking
  • getting up from the floor after a fall
  • getting in and out of a car or other vehicle

Common carers' injuries

The most common injuries carers experience are back injuries. Injuring your back will limit your movement and your ability to care for someone. It could take a long time for you to recover.

Lifting someone incorrectly can also damage fragile skin, cause shoulder and neck injuries, increase existing breathing difficulties, or cause bruising or cuts.

Lifting checklist

If you are regularly lifting someone, it's best to get trained or see the best techniques demonstrated.

Before attempting to move someone, ask yourself: 

  • Do they need help to move?
  • Do they require help or supervision?
  • Have you told them you're moving them?
  • How heavy are they?
  • Are you healthy and strong enough to move them?
  • Is there anyone who could help you?
  • How long will it take? 
  • Is there enough space around you?
  • Are there any obstacles in the way?
  • Are you wearing suitable clothing and shoes  for example, if you are on a slippery or damp surface?

If you have assessed the situation and have decided to move the person, make sure you:

  • never lift above shoulder height
  • make sure your feet are stable
  • take a firm hold
  • keep any weight close to your body
  • keep your back straight and bend your knees
  • lift as smoothly as possible

The York Carers Centre has a video called Moving and handling at home: a carers' guide to what not to do, which you may find helpful to watch.

Support services if you need help with lifting

If you find it difficult to help someone move around, your local authority has a responsibility to consider your needs as a carer and the needs of the person you care for.

From April 2015, local authorities have a duty to support people whose needs are eligible for support. This is explained in more detail in the GOV.UK factsheet Assessing needs and determining eligibility (PDF, 127.69kb).

Contact the local authority and ask for an assessment for the person you look after, as well as a carer's assessment to help you. For advice and guidance on moving and handling, ask for an occupational therapy assessment.

You may be given free specialist equipment to help you, such as hoists, stand aids, transfer boards or slide sheets. You may also be able to find free training courses, which will teach you safe handling methods.

Buying equipment

You may decide you need specialist moving equipment. Before you buy any equipment, get advice from a healthcare professional such as an occupational therapist or a social worker.

Try all equipment before you buy it. If you're considering buying an expensive item, ask to use the equipment for a trial period in the home of the person you're looking after.

For information on equipment, contact the Disabled Living Foundation (DLF). The DLF has an equipment library for simple electronic aids, which allows people to borrow and trial certain products.

The Elderly Care site, run by consumer information service Which?, has a guide for choosing and buying mobility products, ranging from walking sticks and walking frames to wheelchairs and mobility scooters.

The Elderly Care guide also has a list of useful equipment that can make different rooms of the house safer for the person you care for:

Training and courses in moving and handling

Your local authority has an obligation to help carers avoid health and safety risks. They may run training courses on manual handling and may provide you with equipment to make caring for someone safer and easier. If your local authority doesn't offer manual handling courses, ask for a direct payment so you can pay for a course of your choice.

Page last reviewed: 15/01/2015

Next review due: 15/01/2017

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