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Assisting a person to walk - SWI 014 2013


This information is a guide only for use by non-government organisations and service providers as a training tool (supplementary to training) and is not intended as medical or professional advice. Users must seek appropriate medical or professional service. The State Government of South Australia accepts no responsibility for the suitability or completeness of the information and expressly disclaims all liability for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any of the information.

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Stop, Think, Assess, Review

Stop before you begin, you must review the support plan of the client being assisted.

Think about the task, any equipment needed and the readiness of the client. Think about other options if this task cannot be done safely.

Assess the client by watching/talking to them to see if they are willing and able to participate in the task.

Review other options available if client not ready for task. Talk to supervisor/manager about other options.

Potential hazards

  1. Client injury from falling, due to: tripping, walking too fast, unsteady gait.
  2. Muscular, soft-tissue or skeletal injury to workers due to being pulled by falling client.
  3. Muscular, soft-tissue or skeletal injury to workers due to trying to stop client falling.

Safety provisions

To prevent risk of injury to workers or clients during this manual task:

a. Follow all steps of this Safe Work Instruction (SWI).
b. Attempting to stop a falling client can increase the risk of injury to both the client and the worker. Resist any attempt to stop a client falling over by grabbing or catching them.
c. Ensure client is wearing appropriate footwear for walking.
d. Check that surface to be walked on is flat and even, remove tripping hazards and avoid inclines if possible.
e. Check there is enough space for worker to walk beside client while assisting.
f. Communicate with client and other workers at every step of this task.


Set up

  1. Refer to client's support plan for specific information.


  1. Worker to get into position beside client.
  • Worker is standing beside client.
1. Worker to get into position beside client.

  1. Position hands to support client while walking.
  • Worker is standing beside client.
  • To support the client, hold their arm the following way:
    • Worker to place hand closest to client underneath the client's elbow for support.
    • Worker to place hand furthest from client into the client's palm for support, with the thumb through the client's palm for the client to grip (not fingers or whole hand).
2. Position hands to support client while walking.

  1. 'Rolling Out' procedure (if required).
  • Use 'rolling out' procedure for escaping a thumb grasp by client, if required.
  • Little finger leads hand in a rolling out movement that levers out the worker's thumb without risk of injury from pulling.
  • This action is necessary for the worker to avoid being pulled to the ground if client falls, or if squeezes hand too tight.
3. 'Rolling Out' procedure (if required).
3. 'Rolling Out' procedure (if required) - part 2.

  1. Walk along with client.
  • Worker to take slow, steady steps with client.
  • Do not link or grab arms for safety.
  • Worker to provide minimum support required to maximise client's independence (refer to client's support plan).
  • Avoid inclines if possible.
4. Walk along with client.

  1. Stopping walking.
  • Once at destination, or for a rest, stop walking.
  • Worker to place one hand at back of client's hip to support them standing.
  • Place other hand against client's shoulder for more support.
  • If required, assist client to sit down (refer to Performing a Stand Transfer - a second worker may be required).
5. Stopping walking.


  1. Safely conclude task.
  • Make sure client is safe.
  • If client is unable to walk independently, ensure they are seated.
  • Document any incident and report to supervisor immediately.

Attribution: Department of Human Services, the Government of South Australia, "Assisting a person to walk - SWI 014 2013", Sourced on 23rd Oct 2021, ('

Page last updated : 12 Aug 2021

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