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Home > News > Specialist nurses work together to stop the pressure

Specialist nurses work together to stop the pressure

Posted on Monday 12th November 2018

Thursday 15th November marks the annual International Stop Pressure Ulcer Day and NHS staff in Cumbria are joining forces to raise awareness on pressure ulcers and how to prevent them in the first place.

Tissue Viability Nurses from Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) and North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust (NCUH) are supporting Stop Pressure Ulcer Day together and have organised health stands at Dunmail Park shopping centre in Workington and at The Lanes shopping centre in Carlisle to offer expert advice to the public.

Fiona Kelly, Tissue Viability Nurse said:

“The focus for this year’s campaign will be starting the conversation around pressure ulcer prevention.  The Tissue Viability Teams will be prompting staff to wear a red dot to show support but to also bring attention to the damaging impact of pressure ulcers.

“We want to also start conversations with the general public this year, particularly as pressure ulcers are rarely discussed in the public arena but we will all know someone who could be at risk of developing damage.  We need to recognise who could be at risk and how damage can be prevented.  It can be as simple as checking those areas of skin most at risk and repositioning regularly.”

“The prevention and management of pressure ulcers is an issue across the whole health economy due to increasing complexity of patients. Stop Pressure Ulcer Day provides a great opportunity to get out and about to raise awareness on pressure ulcers and provide advice on how to prevent them.”

The first sign of pressure damage occurring is a reddened mark over a bony area on the body. Reacting to this redness is key to preventing further damage and breakdown of the skin occurring. A health professional should be contacted immediately to access the situation.

Pressure ulcers can be avoided in ourselves, patients and loved ones, by:

  • regularly changing a person's position (every 1-2 hours where possible)
  • maintaining good fluid and nutritional intake
  • Keeping the skin clean and dry
  • using equipment to protect vulnerable parts of the body – such as specially designed mattresses and cushions (as advised by a health professional)

The Tissue Viability Team at NCUH have been selected as finalists in the Demonstrating an Impact of Patient Safety Category of the Bright Ideas in Health Awards 2018 for their efforts of increasing knowledge on pressure ulcers.  They have introduced a number of interventions including the use of clocks to prompt patient repositioning, a focus on offloading pressure from heels, mirrors to help check patients’ skin and documentation to be able to accurately record skin conditions. There has also been a strong emphasis on education to ensure staff have the necessary knowledge to be able to prevent pressure ulcers.

NCUH have seen a 61% reduction over a two year period in pressure ulcers developing in hospital and this improvement is being sustained.  The Tissue Viability Team also started a reward scheme for the wards for pressure ulcer free days.  Last month Critical Care Unit at the West Cumberland Hospital celebrated two years without any hospital attributed pressure ulcer.

The Tissue Viability Team at CPFT have also seen a significant and consistent reduction in high harm pressure ulcers. The successful introduction of the “AVOID” education programme has enabled the teams to provide education and support to over 2400 nursing and therapy staff, care agencies, residential homes, carers and to patients and their families across north Cumbria. This is in line with the ongoing “AVOID” philosophy of raising awareness of skin care, pressure ulcer prevention, early detection and management to make pressure ulcer avoidance everyone’s business.

Pressure ulcers (also known as pressure sores or bedsores) are injuries to the skin and underlying tissue, primarily caused by prolonged pressure on the skin. They can happen to anyone, but usually affect people confined to bed or who sit in a chair or wheelchair for long periods of time.

In England the NHS is still seeing more than 1300 new pressure ulcers a month and treating pressure ulcers costs the NHS approx. £1.4 million every day.