Choosing the correct patient transfer device depending on mobility level


Patient transfer tasks occur across a variety of healthcare settings and are very often high risk activities for both caregivers and patients. An increased risk of patient and staff injury has led to the development of global Safe Patient Handling programmes. 

These programmes promote the development of processes, education, identification of appropriate equipment and technologies to increase safety for both caregivers and patients. An aspect of these programmes is the provision of medical devices such as patient transfer equipment to assist with the most common transfer tasks.

Common patient transfer tasks in care facilities can include:

  • Seated transfers 
  • Supine/lateral transfers
  • Bed and chair re-positioning 

During these tasks, different transfer devices are used depending on a patient's mobility.


How do caregivers choose a transfer device?

A patient’s level of mobility is key when choosing the appropriate aids and planning for the right amount of space. As the patient’s mobility decreases, the number of aids and space requirements increase accordingly.

It is particularly important to select equipment that continuously encourages the patient to use all residual physical function and to stretch their ability, thus maintaining a greater degree of independence and mobility.1

Arjo has developed solution charts to identify the correct aids for each level of dependency. Similar tools can be found in the CEN/ISO TR 12296(16)2 while, in the USA, equipment selection algorithms 3 are commonly used. In Europe, there are Clinical Practice Guidelines, which typically use a classification system with three or five mobility levels.

At Arjo, we have developed our Mobility Gallery to classify five mobility levels as A,B,C,D,E or Albert, Barbara, Carl, Doris and Emma. See gallery below for more information (click to enlarge):


Different transfer devices for different residents

The chart below identifies which transfer devices are appropriate for each of the functional mobility levels of the Mobility Gallery. 

Click to enlarge image

Bed and Pateint transfer by mobility level

For example, we can determine that for a patient with Albert's mobility level, there is little need to apply any transfer device. However, a patient with Barbara's mobility may require a non-powered stand aid while a patient with Carl's mobility level may require a powered standing and raising aid, often also used for early mobilisation and rehabilitation. Patients in healthcare facilities with either limited or no mobility, such as a Doris or Emma, will require a passive mobile floor lifter or a ceiling lift.



1. ARJOHUNTLEIGH GUIDEBOOK For Architects and Planners Functional Design for Mobilisation and Ergonomics 4th edition, 2015,(p.24)

2. CEN//ISO TR 12296  (16)– 2013 Ergonomics - Manual Handling of People in the Healthcare Sector

3. Nelson A.L., Motacki K., Menzel N., The illustrated guide to safe patient handling and movement, Springer, 2009


All Images from Arjohuntleigh Guidebook. Please click here to request a copy.