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How Do You Help Someone In A Wheelchair?

If you are a carer looking after a person who depends on a wheelchair for mobility, knowing the right ways to help them in and out of their wheelchair can sometimes be tricky. Wheelchairs can be awkward and unwieldy to move from one place to another, especially if you are unsure of the safest way of lifting and seating a family member or friend who needs your help. 

Not knowing the correct techniques to apply can cause accidents and injuries to the person in the wheelchair or even to yourself, so it is vital to fully know how to help someone in a wheelchair before trying to do so.

Do not assume that the person in the wheelchair always needs help; always ask the person if they would like to get help from you before giving it to them. It is good to create a method of when and how the person would like your help. Have a one-to-one conversation with whoever you want to help before doing anything.

Keep reading to know how you can help someone in a wheelchair in the safest and most comfortable way possible. 

1. Prepare The Chair

You can help a person by preparing their wheelchair for them. However, before doing this, it is essential to ensure that the wheelchair is set and comfortable for its user to sit in it before moving up and down the area. Don’t ever try to adjust the wheelchair when the user is already seated on it. Instead, try to ensure that the chair is ready and adjusted in the right position beforehand.  

Bring out the footrests and flip up the armrests or remove them entirely if need be, to prevent clothes from snagging or any accident from occurring and injuring the wheelchair user in the process.  

Keep the chair in a leveled position or lower slightly than where you’re moving your family member or friend from, facing you.

Most importantly, ensure that the wheelchair brakes are functional and that the chair is stable.

2. Help Lift Them To Their Seat

Before helping someone who is wheelchair-bound into a chair, you need to know the various factors and also know the right way to lift them. 

Ensure that you know your family member or friend’s bodyweight and make sure that you are strong enough to carry (lift) them all by yourself safely and comfortably.  

Before moving someone in or out of a wheelchair, ensure that there is enough room to maneuver, with no barriers around or anything that might cause you to slip or trip over. Also, your footwear and clothing are essential; make sure that you are not putting on anything that could become tangled or stuck and ensure that your footwear allows total stability. 

Check if your family member or friend is happy and okay with being lifted, and always inform them of what you plan on doing even before you do it. 

When you are about to lift someone into a wheelchair, ensure that your feet are firmly planted on the ground and that the weight of the person you are carrying is close to your body. Lift carefully with your knee bent and your back straight.

3. Make Them Comfortable

Lower your family member or friend into the wheelchair slowly and steadily, ensure that they are fully settled in the chair, not partially seated on it. 

If they can stand a bit and lower themselves into the wheelchair, stand right behind the wheelchair and firmly hold the handles to make sure it does not move.

Once they are fully seated, swing those footrests back into place, be mindful of their legs, and slowly fold the footplates down. If necessary, help your family member or friend to place their legs on the footplates. 

4. Conversations

Chatting with a wheelchair user might not look like help, but it is. Those who are wheelchair-bound value great conversations a lot. When you meet with someone who is in a wheelchair, and you plan on talking to them for an extended time, do not hesitate to go down to their level by kneeling so that you can be more face-to-face. Wheelchair users love same-level conversations. A patient once said that everyone and everything got taller when she started using a wheelchair.  

5. Clear Paths

Always assess the street, paths, and roads to ensure no obstacles or barriers. Indicate where and how they should park, and identify all obstacles that may seem to block their way. If you have to go through alternative paths, first inform the person about it. Ensure that chairs in churches and other social meetings are well organized to accommodate the wheelchair user.

6. Show Them Love And Care

For some reason, most people will pat a wheelchair user on the shoulder or head. This is sometimes demeaning, and he or she may feel patronized by this act. Treat those who are wheelchair-bound the same way you would treat anyone else. Keep in mind that a person’s wheelchair is part of their life, so do not hang off or lean on a wheelchair. 

7. Make Them Feel Free

All wheelchair users love it when you make them feel free. You can challenge them on a race or play games with them. Do not assume that a person in a wheelchair is suffering or can not do certain things because he or she is in a wheelchair. The wheelchair is their freedom. It is not a disabler but an enabler.

8. Mobility

People in wheelchairs will need assistance when it comes to transportation and washrooms. Transferring disabled people from one place to another is one of the best ways of helping them. When transfers occur, do not move the wheelchair too far away from them; instead, keep the wheelchair nearby.

9. Always Think About Them

What if you were going to invite a person who was in a wheelchair to your residence for thanksgiving or dinner? Always think about them and what to do ahead of time. Always make plans for the wheelchair, and try as much as you can to anticipate their needs before they even get there. Don’t forget about the incorporate strategies and barriers around them. 

10. Understand Their Needs

People in wheelchairs attend public gatherings more and more often. If you are among the hosts of such a gathering, you need to fully understand the emotional and physical needs of those in wheelchairs. It is imperative to have the necessary information from their caregivers if at all possible. The information you get will help you better understand the needs of a given wheelchair user. 

In the case of younger people like students who depend on a wheelchair for mobility, teachers and other assistants will have to develop a strong leadership modeling role. When a teacher treats a student in a wheelchair the right way, other kids in that class will also learn how to help in ways they can. They also learn that the wheelchair is not a disabler but an enabler.


Before moving the wheelchair ask your family member or friend to rest their hands on their lap or far away from both wheels so that their hands won’t get caught in the spokes. Ensure that their elbows are not pointed out to the extent where they could serve as barriers when moving through little doorways.  

Most importantly, check if the individual you are helping is relaxed and calm, and glad to receive help from you.

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