Success of NHS Project Highlights the Value of Carer Interventions in Pressure Ulcer Avoidance

A senior NHS nurse has said that the efforts of care staff have been central to the 61% reduction in pressure ulcers within her trust over the last 2 years. Tissue viability nurse, Fiona Kelly, of North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, explained that her team had been set the challenge of reducing pressure ulcer prevalence by 50% and introduced a range of interventions to help achieve this goal. However, she claims that the success was only due to the efforts of all staff getting “on board” and showing a sense of pride in their achievements.

Ms Kelly was speaking about her trust’s achievements as part of International Stop Pressure Ulcer Day which fell on 15th November this year and hopes to encourage others to take action by showing how a team approach of adopting simple but effective measures can lead to significant improvements.

Read on to learn more about this inspiring campaign and learn how to reduce the risk of pressure ulcers within your own service.

The work of the North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust’s tissue viability team involved testing out potential interventions during an improvement week before rolling them out to other wards within the trust. As the team has only three members, information was shared by a system of link nurses, each responsible for implementing the interventions in their area of work. Although traditional measures such as the use of pressure relieving equipment and positional changes were seen as important, it was the newly introduced interventions that helped to reduce pressure sore prevalence so effectively.

5 Measures to Improve Pressure Care in Your Service 

  1. Training for all: Previously, the trust had only provided mandatory tissue viability to nurses but chose to expand this to health care assistants as they frequently carried out most “hands on” care. Ensuring all of your care team receive this type of training will boost awareness and knowledge, enabling them to spot potential problems sooner in future.
  2. Pressure Care Champions: The introduction of link nurses to act as Pressure Care Champions was seen as particularly valuable in raising awareness and sharing good practice. Consider appointing similar Champions from within your own team to ensure that pressure care awareness remains a high priority for all staff.
  3. Body maps: The Trust encouraged the use of body maps to record the skin condition of all older people on admission. This allowed existing problems to be recorded and any vulnerable areas identified so that preventative action could be taken. Using a similar approach with new admissions to your service can help head off potential problems before they develop into something far more serious.
  4. Heel offloading: The practice of heel offloading, i.e. ensuring that patients’ heels weren’t rubbing on mattresses was found to be particularly effective. If this isn’t something that’s routinely used in your service, ensure your staff are aware of its benefits and use where appropriate.
  5. Mirrors: Some pressure areas can be difficult to inspect, particularly in immobile service users but the trust’s staff found that hand held mirrors were useful in helping to check less accessible areas. Try providing portable mirrors for your own team, as well as being a useful tool, they can also act as an additional reminder to check pressure areas when giving personal care.

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