When there is sustained pressure in an area of skin that cuts off circulation to that area, the skin will start to breakdown creating what is common called a bedsore or pressure ulcer. If you’ve never seen one, consider yourself lucky. Not properly cared for, these sores and develop into wounds so deep that muscle and bone can sometimes be exposed.
It has been reported that two million Americans experienced pressure ulcers every year, usually the result of a combination of poor nutrition, dehydration, and immobility. Recent studies, however, suggest that fighting bedsores requires a team approach, enlisting not just the bedside caregivers, but many other nursing home employees.
A study by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society involving 52 nursing homes around the United States reported a reduction of almost 70% of serious bedsores acquired in the facilities after utilizing a team approach to the prevention and treatment of sores.
“Preventing pressure ulcers is a 24/7/365 kind of job,” said Jeff West, a clinical reviewer at Qualis Health in Seattle, who helped to set up the collaborative in 2003. “It’s not as if one person can get it all done. And if it fails just a little bit, just during the weekends, for instance, you’re not going to get the results. It takes tremendous consistency.”
For example, laundry workers can help make sure clothes fit properly, kitchen staff can ensure proper nutrition, even the beauty parlor can help by assessing the risk of the customer and making sure a resident doesn’t sit on one place for too long.
Bedsores should be rare events in nursing homes. While the development of these sores can not always be blamed on inadequate care, it is rarely the case that a State III or IV pressure ulcer could not have been prevented with proper attention and care.