Pressure ulcers, pressure sores or bed sores as they are more widely known, sound like an academic subject for debate within the medical world. We should pay heed however, as they are extremely common, unpleasant, painful and in the worst case, can be life limiting. According to the NHS, around 700,000 people in the UK develop pressure sores each year with about 95% of them preventable. It costs an estimated £4,000 per person to treat them.
The European Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel and the Tissue Viability Society in the UK are both active in trying to raise awareness about pressure ulcers amongst the general public.
A pressure ulcer is a localised injury to the skin and/or underlying tissue, usually over a bony prominence. They tend to occur in less mobile people, so extended periods in bed, seated in a chair or wheelchair are likely scenarios for them to take hold. They are more common in older age because we move around less. As our rate of activity decreases, blood circulation becomes less efficient and this can affect the skin’s ability to heal quickly. It is not surprising, therefore, that those in residential or hospital care are some of the most vulnerable to pressure ulcers.
All nursing and senior care staff at The Chiswick are trained and competent in the key techniques associated with avoidance of pressure wounds and there are strict protocols to follow.
Sometimes residents who join us have already acquired pressure ulcers – perhaps they have had a stay in hospital, been living with relatives or in their own homes. Where wounds have been acquired outside of the nursing centre, we work with qualified Tissue Viability Nurses to promote healing and recovery. Good diet and nutrition are key components, as is regular mobility, or assisted movement for those who are nursed in bed.
If you are interested in learning more about preventing pressure sores – perhaps you are caring for someone at home, this short information film might help you. https://youtu.be/FaT1KA9hXWQ