Pressure Ulcers (sometimes called pressure or bed sores) are areas of damage to the skin and underlying tissue caused by pressure and friction.
At the Royal Devon & Exeter hospital we want our patients and their carers to be informed, where appropriate and possible, when a patient is at risk of developing pressure ulcers and how together we can reduce or prevent these sore areas from occurring.
All our patients can be vulnerable to pressure ulcers. At the RD&E we want to identify pressure ulcers early and assess patients who are at risk or have got pressure ulcers already so that skin damage is prevented and managed effectively.
Pressure ulcers compromise the health and the wellbeing of our patients – they can be uncomfortable, painful, distressing and lead to health complications and delay recovery.
Nursing staff are trained to identify which patients are at risk of developing pressure ulcers. We also have ‘Skin Matters’ champions on each of the wards who act as role models and advocates for our patients by raising awareness about pressure ulcers among other members of staff and providing training.
Care plans are made for each patient which set out the nursing care and measures taken to prevent, reduce and alleviate pressure ulcers. These include:
appropriate turning or moving of patients
checking high risk places on the body such as prominent bone areas
introducing a diet to assist healing and skin health
pressure relieving and reducing support systems
a choice of dressings
a choice and alternating of bed mattresses
We want our patients and their carers to have ongoing access to information about this matter and have the opportunity to discuss their needs and any concerns. Assessment of patients is ongoing and regularly reviewed.
Patients and carers, if willing and able, can help by:
Checking their own skin regularly after advice on what to look for - Sometimes using a mirror can make this easier or patients should ask for assistance
Informing the nursing staff of any changes or soreness
Following advice and information provided on managing this condition
Pressure Ulcers are a specialist field for the RD&E Tissue Viability Service, and they provide advice and training on good practice to other staff throughout the Trust.
Discharge planning should ensure care packages are set up in advance of the patient leaving hospital.