Your guide to care and support

Moving, lifting and handling the person you care for

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

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 vehicle

Common carers' injuries

It's essential to know about safe moving and handling so you don't hurt yourself or the person you look after.

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 regularly lift or move someone, it's best to get training or have someone demonstrate the correct techniques.

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're on a slippery or damp surface?

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

  • never lift above shoulder height
  • keep your feet stable
  • have 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.

Local authority help with lifting or moving someone

Your local authority has an obligation to help carers avoid health and safety risks.

Contact your local authority and ask for a care needs 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.

Training

The local authority may run free training courses on safe handling.

If it doesn't offer manual handling courses, ask for a direct payment so you can pay for a course of your choice.

Equipment

The local authority may also provide free equipment – such as hoists, stand aids, transfer boards or slide sheets – to make moving someone safer and easier.

Buying equipment to lift or move someone

If you decide to buy any equipment, get advice beforehand from a healthcare professional such as an occupational therapist or a social worker.

Try any 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 buying equipment, contact the Disabled Living Foundation (DLF), which also has factsheets on how to move or lift someone safely.

Page last reviewed: 21/03/2018
Next review due: 21/03/2021