Moving safely

If the person you are caring for is mobile, encourage them to stay active for as long as possible. If they need help to move, we can show you how to do this safely.  

Maintaining independence
The person you are caring for will most likely want to be as independent as possible for as long as they can. As their carer, you can help them achieve this by encouraging and supporting them to take part (even in a small way) in daily activities such as cooking, dressing and shopping.

How we can help
If you feel the person you are caring for needs more support to stay active, your Hospice care team can organise palliative rehabilitation, either with our own physiotherapist (at North Shore) or a community physiotherapist (Hibiscus and Warkworth/Wellsford). They will work with you to create rehabilitative goals and provide targeted and safe treatment aimed at reducing symptoms of illness and improving quality of life.

When physiotherapy is useful
If they're troubled by symptoms such as fatigue, breathlessness, immobility, muscle weakness and pain, palliative rehabilitation may help. You may notice, when talking to or observing your person, that these symptoms are causing a loss of confidence, low morale, distress and anxiety, and potentially a concern about becoming a burden to others.

If you notice any of the following signs, talk to your Hospice care team about a physiotherapist referral:

  • Frequent falls
  • Pain that limits movement and activity
  • Interest in starting an exercise programme
  • Breathlessness
  • Developing higher needs of care
  • Frustration with tiredness that limits activity and enjoyment of life
  • A decrease in physical movement after hospitalisation
  • Changes in intellectual ability that are affecting daily life
  • Requiring equipment to aid mobility.

Harbour Hospice has a physiotherapist on site at North Shore and your care team can provide a referral. At Hibiscus and Warkworth/Wellsford, your GP or Hospice care team will be able to refer you to the community physiotherapist via the Waitematā District Health Board.


The physiotherapist may recommend equipment to help your person stay as active as possible or to help you care for them more easily. Many of these items are funded through the Ministry of Health, however products under $100 are not funded and will need to be purchased privately. We have provided some links to private suppliers under resources.

Moving a patient
Please seek advice from your Community Palliative Care Team or GP before helping your person to move, for example, from bed to wheelchair. Always protect yourself from injury so you can continue to care for your loved one.


While trying to encourage independence and mobility, there is always a risk that a person could fall. Harbour hospice and ACC recommend that when a person starts to fall you do not try to stop them or hold onto them as you are more likely to injure yourself.

If the person has a fall, don’t panic as they can't fall any further. See if they are able to get up by themselves. If your person cannot get up and you think they may be injured, make sure they are safe, then call an ambulance.


Preventing Falls web

Preventing Falls

Preventing a fall in the first place, not only reduces the likelihood of an unnecessary injury but also works to remove the fear of falling.

Other resources

Exercise in palliative care

In this video, you can hear physiotherapist Roslyn Savage discuss the benefits of exercise and precautions to consider for palliative patients.


You can buy or rent equipment from private suppliers, including:
Radius Care  
Liberty Healthcare 
Independent Living 

Techniques for moving and handling people

This guide by ACC covers a number of techniques commonly used in moving and handling people. Most of the techniques have photo sequences illustrating the specific moves.