Are you or someone you know at risk of developing a pressure ulcer?

Pressure ulcer affect over 700,000 people in the UK every year.  The pressure ulcers tend to develop over bony parts of the body that are normally in constant contact with a surface.  Below is a diagram of the areas of the body that are most at risk.

locations of pressure damage.png

There are many different things that can put someone more at risk of developing a pressure ulcer:

- immobility

- reduced sensitivity to pain or pressure (can be due to medical condition or nerve damage)

- poor circulation

- old age (over 65 qualifies here)

- poor diet

- incontinence problems

- end of life care

All of these areas will increase the risk of developing a pressure ulcer so its very important that someone who is providing care for an individual who is at risk is aware of what they can do to reduce that risk.

There are five simple things that you can check regularly:

S - Surface: is the person on a specialist surface and is it doing the job that it is meant to do for them?

S - Skin inspection: check for colour changes, blisters or swelling in areas which are vulnerable.  Learn how to do the Blanch test by watching this simple video - click here

K - Keep moving: has mobility decreased?  Encourage gentle movement frequently - chair based exercise will help to encourage circulation and alleviate pressure from the key areas. Encourage movement forward and backwards, left to right in a seated position with feet flat on the floor.

I - Incontinence: is this deteriorating?  If the person at risk is incontinent then make sure a proper plan is in place and that barrier creams are being used as directed after washing and drying the skin.

N - Nutrition and hydration:is the person taking on adequate food and drink?  If not is there a problem that can be easily rectified (sore throat, mouth ulcer, broken dentures) or do they need to see a doctor?

 

If you want to see what pressure ulcers look like, from category I through to category IV then please click this link.  Warning, some of these are quite graphic images and can make people feel a little unwell.