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Repositioning a person in a wheelchair - SWI 010 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 incorrect movement or posture.
  2. Muscular or skeletal injury to worker from incorrect movement, posture or lifting.

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. One to 2 staff to perform this task as per Client support plan.
c. Do not over reach or attempt to lift client.
d. Check there is space to move wheelchair at every step of task, remove obstacles.
e. Communicate with client and other workers at every step of this task.


Set up

  1. Check the wheelchair is in good condition, that tyres are inflated, wheels roll properly and the brakes work correctly. Report any faults immediately and do not use.
  2. Each time before moving wheelchair, make sure area and route is clear of obstacles.
  3. Refer to client's support plan for specific information.


  1. Stand beside client in wheelchair.
  • Ensure wheelchair brakes are on.
  • Worker to stand beside client, bending knees with a straight back.
  • Rear knee at client's hip and other foot is positioned with wide stance out at 45 degrees to direction of chair.
1. Stand beside client in wheelchair.

  1. Lean client to side to enable a pivot motion.
  • Assist client to sit forward in wheelchair.
  • With knees bent, worker to place arm around client's trunk (not pulling through shoulder) and lean them off their opposite pelvis towards worker.
  • After leaning, worker to assist client to pivot forward or backward in seat.
2. Lean client to side to enable a pivot motion.

  1. Lean client to other side and repeat pivot motion in other direction.
  • Worker to move to other side of wheelchair.
  • Worker to repeat Step 2.
  • Repeat Step 2 on each side of client, continue repeats until client is sitting far enough forward or has been correctly repositioned.
  • If repositioning to the front of the wheelchair to stand, remove footplates first.
3. Lean client to other side and repeat pivot motion in other direction.

  1. When in correct position, assist client into an upright position.
  • When client in correct position, worker to ensure they are sitting upright.
  • If sitting forward, place client's feet flat on floor.
  • Make sure client is safe and comfortable.
4. When in correct position, assist client into an upright position.


  1. Safely conclude task.
  • Make sure client is comfortable and safe.
  • Document any incident and report to supervisor immediately.

Attribution: Department of Human Services, the Government of South Australia, "Repositioning a person in a wheelchair - SWI 010 2013", Sourced on 23rd Oct 2021, ('

Page last updated : 12 Aug 2021

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