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How To Properly Position Someone in Bed


Updated July 01, 2014

Properly positioning someone in bed will not only make them more comfortable, but can help prevent the development of painful pressure ulcers.
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 1-5 minutes

Here's How:

  1. Get your "lift buddy". This is another able bodied person that can help you lift and position the person in bed safely.
  2. If needed, lift the person up in bed so their head is at the top. For tips on safely lifting someone in bed, see "How to Safely Lift a Person".
  3. With the help of your "buddy", turn the person on their side. The easiest way to do this is to stand on the side that the person will be facing. Reach over the person and grab the drawsheet on the opposite side. Gently pull the drawsheet towards you while your buddy gently pushes the persons hip and shoulder towards you.
  4. Use a pillow or a foam wedge to place under the drawsheet at the persons back. Position the pillow close against the back to help prop the person on their side.
  5. Place another pillow or a specially designed foam leg wedge to place between the persons knees. This will add to their comfort by keeping the spine in alignment and will ease pressure on the bony areas of the knees and ankles.
  6. Use another pillow to prop their arms. This will have to be done by sight. Everyone will remain on their side at varying degrees and depending on the incline of the head of the bed, arm positions will vary. I find that most patients are more comfortable with the arm on the side they are laying on propped on a pillow to keep it from being compressed between the body and the bed.
  7. If your loved one is going to remain on their back, raise the foot of the bed enough to bend the knees. In addition, you can place a pillow under the knees. This will help prop the person up so they don't slide down in bed, which can create painful skin sores.
  8. Place another pillow under their ankles with their heels "floating" off the end of the pillow. This helps alleviate pressure on the heels.
  9. Use pillows as needed to place under the persons head and arms for comfort. If they are unable to let you know if they are comfortable, you'll have to use your judgment. If something doesn't look comfortable, it probably isn't. Adjust as necessary until the person looks cozy and content.
  10. Alternate between the back, right side, and left side every two hours while you're awake. Don't wake yourself up at night to turn them but if they wake you up in the middle of the night, reposition them while your up.


  1. Always use a "lift buddy".
  2. Always use a drawsheet.
  3. Pillows are your best friend!

What You Need

  • Your lift buddy!
  • A flat sheet for the drawsheet.
  • Several pillows.
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