Turning Patients Over in Bed

Usually one or two people can turn a patient safely. This can be done with a drawsheet or slide sheet. Or, you can use a ceiling lift (if available), especially if the patient weights over 200 pounds. The patient can sometimes help by pushing down with a heel. Start the turn with the patient on the side of the bed opposite the direction they will be rolling.

Patient preparing to be turned in bed with arms crossed and knee bent.Healthcare provider turning patient in bed.

Step 1. Cross arms

  • Put the bed rail and head of the bed down; adjust the top of the bed to waist- or hip-level.

  • Cross the patient’s arms on their chest; bend the leg farther away from you.

Step 2. Turn the patient

  • Pull the drawsheet toward you, moving the patient to one side of the bed.

  • Make sure pillows or guardrails are up on other side of the bed.

  • Pull up on sheet with an upward motion. This will cause the patient to roll in the opposite direction.

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