To mark this year’s Worldwide Stop Pressure Ulcer Day on Thursday 19th November, Michelle Webb met with the Care Plus Group Skin Integrity Team (Georgina McKay, Val Carpenter and Sarah Bagley) to find out what they would be doing to mark this year’s event and why it is so important.
Michelle: Thanks for taking the time to meet with me today, firstly would you be able to explain exactly what a pressure sore is?
Val: It’s damage to the skin, usually where there are prominent bones such as the heels, elbows, buttocks and bottom of the spine. They are usually caused by an individual being unable to move or sitting in one position for a long time. The skin can be intact or broken. They are caused when the skin is compressed down which restricts the blood flow so the skin can die.
Michelle: So what exactly is Worldwide Stop Pressure Ulcer Day?
Georgina: It is an International Day aimed at raising the awareness of pressure sores and preventing them which is taking place on Thursday 19th November. To mark the day at Care Plus Group we are holding a drop in session for our community nurses and health care assistants to raise awareness and get advice and information. We’re also putting information out to members of the public through things like this article and using our Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Michelle: Are pressure sores a big issue then?
Georgina: They are high on the healthcare agenda because of the impact they have on the individual, particularly very deep pressure sores and obviously anything we can do to reduce the incidence of them is a good thing. There are 412,000 people with a pressure sore per year in the UK (Bennett et al, 2004).
Michelle: Are certain people more at risk?
Val: Yes, there are certain factors that make people more at risk of developing pressure ulcers. They are more common in elderly people as their skin is thinner but also the following are risk factors:
- People who can’t move themselves independently
- People who don’t eat and drink very well
- People who may be incontinent
- People with chronic health conditions, for example COPD, Diabetes and heart problems to name just a few
Michelle: And is there a way of checking if you have an area you are concerned about being a potential pressure sore?
Val: Yes there are some early signs to look out for. The first sign that a pressure sore may be forming over a prominent bone is usually red skin. People with darkly pigmented skin may develop a purple/blue patch. If you do have red skin there’s a test called the fingertip test you can use to check to see if it’s a pressure sore. The information below is useful:
Michelle: So what can people do to prevent a pressure sore?
Georgina: There are lots of steps people can take to prevent pressure sores, the main things to remember are:
- Keep moving: change your position regularly. This will keep your skin healthy and stop red areas occurring. If you are unable to change your position, ask a carer or member of your family to help you.
- Protect your skin: wash your skin with un-perfumed mild soap. Perfumed soaps can cause skin to dry. Keep your skin healthy by applying a gentle unperfumed moisturising lotion, this is because dry flaky skin is easily damaged. If you have problems with incontinence it is important to clean your skin regularly and apply a barrier cream/lotion – this will stop your skin from becoming sore.
- Eat a well-balanced diet: eat plenty of fruit, vegetables and proteins, such as meat, fish, cheese and eggs. You should also drink plenty of fluids.
If you follow this advice your skin should remain healthy and less likely to become damaged.
Michelle: Thanks for sharing this information about pressure sores, hopefully we’ve answered some questions people may have. Just finally, if someone reading this is concerned about pressure sores on themselves or someone else what is your advice to them?
Georgina: I would recommend if people have any concerns about pressure sores they contact their GP surgery or Community Nurses as soon as possible. All Care Plus Group Community Nurses can be contacted on one single number which is 01472 256780
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