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General Guidelines:

  • Explain to the service user what you will do
  • Wash your hands
  • Make sure the service user is wearing skid-resistant slippers or shoes
  • Fasten the transfer belt around the service user's waist
  • Assist the service user to a standing position

Cane: Service user places cane about 12 inches in front of his stronger leg, brings weaker leg even with cane, and then brings stronger leg forward slightly ahead of cane. Repeat.

Walker: Service user picks up or rolls the walker and places it about 12 inches in front of him. All four feet or wheels of the walker should be on the ground before service user steps forward to the walker. The walker should not be advanced again until the service user has moved both feet forward and in a steady position. The service user should never put his feet ahead of the walker.

Crutches: Service user should be fitted for crutches and taught to use them correctly by a physical therapist or nurse. The service user may use the crutches several different ways, depending on what his weakness is. No matter how the service user is using his crutches, weight should be on the service user's hands and arms rather than on the underarm area.

Whether the service user is using a cane, walker or crutches:

  • Walk slightly behind the service user, on the weak side if the service user has one. Hold the transfer belt unless you think the service user is steady on his own.
  • Watch for obstacles in the service user's path and encourage the service user to look ahead, rather than down at his feet.
  • Encourage the service user to rest if fatigued. Allowing a service user to become too fatigued increases the chance of a fall. Let the service user set the pace, and discuss how far he plans to go based on the physician's orders.
  • Settle the service user back into a safe and comfortable position after ambulation.
  • Wash your hands
  • Document the procedure and your observations. How did the service user feel or appear while walking? How far did the service user walk? How much help did the service user need?