Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Proper positioning, transferring and turning techniques

  • Consult an Occupational or Physical Therapist (OT/PT) regarding transfer and positioning techniques and strategies
  • Consider devices to reduce pressure friction and shear in all positions, and how to optimize client independence
  • All surfaces upon which the client sits or lies, the transfers to and from these surfaces and the repositioning techniques used need to be assessed regarding pressure, friction and shear forces
  • Use devices to enable independent positioning, lifting and transfers (e.g. trapeze, transfer board, bed rails)
  • Lifting devices or low friction sheets should be used to avoid dragging clients during transfers and position changes.
  • To view the Force Management click here
  • Clients in chairs:
    • Skin protection cushions should be used when clients are using a wheelchair to help prevent pressure ulcers
    • An Occupational or Physical Therapist with expertise in seating and mobility should conduct a wheeled mobility and seating assessments
    • Ensure that that wheelchair and cushion are prescribed for that individual client sitting in the wheelchair, that the components of the wheelchair are assembled appropriately and that the cushion is in the chair correctly
    • To view the Seating Assesment click here
  • Clients in bed:
    • Use of pillows or foam wedges to avoid contact between bony prominences had been shown to minimize pressure ulcer incidence
    • A 30 degree turn to either side is also recommended to avoid positioning directly on the trochanter, as this results in the lowest interface pressure
    • A 30 degree elevation or lower (maintaining the head of the bed at the lowest elevation consistent with medical conditions and restrictions) was a recommended position for reducing shearing forces
    • An advanced dressing could be used to further decrease friction or shear in individuals who are restricted to bed
Clinical Management
Risk Assessment and Prevention of Pressure Ulcers
Point of Care Resources