How to Reposition a Patient In Bed

caregiver helping patient out of bed

If you are not medically trained, you may not be aware of the dangers associated with improper repositioning techniques that can put both you and a loved one at risk. Repositioning a patient or loved one every two hours is essential for preventing bedsores and keeping the epidermis healthy. It's also the perfect time to check their skin closely to ensure they don't have any redness or sores that need immediate attention.

Why Repositioning Is Important

An absence of movement causes bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers (injuries). Regulating the conditions that can compromise skin integrity is an essential element of care for patients who have already developed pressure injuries and those at risk. Repositioning can help to restore regular blood flow and prevent skin tissues from dying due to a lack of nutrients or oxygen supply if left untreated.

What Are Bedsores?

Bedsores, also known as pressure sores, decubitus ulcers or pressure injuries, are common among the elderly and bedridden. They develop when a person spends too much time in one position, which creates friction on the skin, leading to tissue death.

Steps for Repositioning a Patient in Bed

When a patient is not moving much or at all, there are risks of problems such as pressure ulcers (injuries). There are accepted guidelines for repositioning to help prevent these issues, but the approach will depend on many factors, including skin condition and mobility. The following steps are the basic way to position someone without causing harm to them or yourself.

steps for repositioning a patient in bed

1. Use a Patient Positioner Sheet

Moving and repositioning patients is a crucial component to delivering quality patient care. This process should never be taken lightly, as the potential for injury always looms over caregivers when they are manually handling their patients. Using MIP Cares products such as the Swift Patient Positioner and the UltraSlide Fitted Bottom Sheet will save caregivers time and decrease the risk of injury while improving the quality of patient care.

MIP Cares' Swift slider was designed with the input from care experts, physiotherapists, and nurses to reduce the physical effort required for repositioning by up to 46% (and by 60%, when used together with our UltraSlide repositioning bottom sheet).

In addition, Swift is more comfortable for the care recipient by supporting all the heaviest portions of the body (from shoulders to mid-thigh).

 2. Get a Repositioning Partner

A strong helper is a key to safe patient repositioning. It's safer, easier on your body, and helps make any movement as seamless as possible. Ensure your partner can be trusted and has enough strength for the task at hand before you start any repositioning!

Tip: When possible, bed height should be at the caregivers' upper thigh level.

3. Get the Patient Ready

When repositioning, it is important to pull and not lift your patient. Two assistants should stand on opposite sides of the bed while repositioning a patient so that they can each use their strength to help move them in one direction at once. Before you begin - take a quick scan to assess any risks.

Follow the steps below to utilize the Swift patient positioner:

  1. Bend the patient's knees to protect heels from being dragged across linens.
  2. Put one foot forward as you prepare to move the patient. Put your weight on your back leg.
  3. Hold Swift Slider with two hands - One at shoulder height and one at hip height.
  4. To move the patient or loved one, gather Swift Slider as close as possible to their body. Reposition by laterally shifting body weight. You may need to do this more than once to get the person in the proper position.
  5. Once the patient or loved one has been repositioned, smooth out Swift Slider and tuck flaps securely under the mattress.
  6. If the head of the bed needs to be elevated, raise the knee gatch to prevent the patient from sliding down the mattress. Position their hips in the bend of the bed. If hips go above that zone, they will slide down by the force of gravity.

Remember, the Swift Slider is not intended for lifting.

4. Turning the Patient

If you need to turn the patient or loved one in their bed, you should:

  1. Raise the bed to a level that feels comfortable to you to reduce back strain and make the bed flat.
  2. Get as close as you can to the person in bed. It may be necessary to put a knee on the bed.
  3. Place one hand on your loved one's or patient's shoulder and another on their hip.
  4. Standing with one foot ahead of the other, shift your weight to your front foot (or the knee you put on the bed) as you gently pull their shoulder towards you.
  5. Then, shift your weight to the back foot as you gently pull their hip towards you.

You may need to repeat the last two steps until the patient or loved one is in the correct position.

5. Finalize the Placement

  1. Once they are comfortably in the correct position, it's time to finalize their placement:
  2. Ensure their ankles, knees, and elbows are not placed on top of each other.
  3. Ensure the head and neck are in line with the spine.
  4. If needed, return the bed to a comfortable position with the side rails up.
  5. Use pillows as needed.

Why You Can Depend on MIP Solutions

hospital bed with MIP products

The MIP Cares product development team partnered with physiotherapists to develop a reusable, safe person handling line with both caregivers and care recipients in mind. Initially aimed at reducing caregiver neck and back injuries caused by person repositioning, our breathable and soft line of safe person handling products also benefits the care recipient during repositioning.


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