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Practising Proper Wound Care for Care Home Residents

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Practising Proper Wound Care for Care Home Residents

No matter how much you try to protect your residents, some injuries are inevitable, so it’s always best to be prepared. As well as stocking up on items such as dressings and bandages, it’s also important to ensure that staff are trained on proper wound dressing techniques, and that good hygiene practices are in place to minimise the chances of infection.

Elderly people are more likely to experience delayed wound healing than their younger counterparts for a number of reasons, including delayed inflammatory responses and reduced skin elasticity. It’s therefore particularly important to monitor the healing of wounds amongst older residents.

Common Causes of Wounds in Elderly Residents

A useful starting point is to consider some of the most likely reasons why a resident might need wound care. By carrying out a risk assessment, you can take the precautions required to make your care home a safer place, as well as anticipating the kinds of dressings and supplies you might need to keep in stock.

Common causes of wounds in elderly individuals include trips and falls, pressure ulcers and burns. If residents have recently undergone surgery, they may also have wounds which require special attention.

Supporting the Healing Process

In any person - young or old – the skin’s healing process follows a certain pattern. However, the wound may fail to heal properly if one of the stages of healing is interrupted. Normal wound healing stages include:

  • The inflammatory stage: Blood vessels constrict to prevent blood loss, while platelets gather to create a clot.
  • The Fibroblastic stage: The protein known for giving skin its strength - collagen – is deposited in the wound. This encourages the edges of the wound to come together and begin closing.
  • The Maturation stage: The body consistently adds additional collagen to the wounded area, causing scars to age and fade over time.

Though care home staff can't do much to speed up the natural healing process, they can help prevent some of the barriers which can impede healing, such as:

  • Infection - Regularly changing dressings and cleaning wounds with cotton buds can help to reduce the chances of infection.
  • Dead skin - Regular bathing and cleansing with sterile wipes can help to remove dead skin cells, which could get in the way of healthy new skin growth.
  • Dryness - Wounds which are exposed to the air too much can become too dry, which can slow down the healing process. A moist environment is preferred for faster healing – for example, try applying a hydrocolloid dressing.

The Importance of Good Hygiene

Hygiene is a crucial factor when it comes to preventing infection and helping wounds heal quickly, and it is particularly important when dealing with wounds in post-surgical care.

In practice, this means making sure that all staff are aware of the importance of washing their hands and applying gloves before dealing with wounds. As well as this, staff should ensure that the resident continues to bathe regularly, and is given help to bathe if needed.

Without proper hygiene measures, wounds in elderly patients could fail to heal, which in time could lead to more serious problems.

Tips to Aid Wound Healing

Care home staff can support residents in a number of ways to help improve healing, including:

  • Regularly changing wound dressings to help reduce the likelihood of infection or discomfort for the resident.
  • Choosing the right type of dressing for each patient’s needs – for instance, transparent dressings, hydrocolloid dressings or specialist burns dressings.
  • Treating sudden signs of discomfort - including fever and pain. If infection signs become evident, you may need to seek further medical advice.
  • Managing other conditions such as anaemia, which could hinder wound healing.
  • Ensuring that residents eat foods rich in vitamins, protein and zinc, or that they have access to vitamin supplements if required, to help give them the nutrients needed for healing.
  • Encouraging more able residents to engage in some gentle exercise – although it’s important not to push anyone beyond their capabilities.

We hope you’ve found our tips on wound care for elderly residents useful. At Care Shop, you can find a wide range of medical supplies including specialist bandages and dressings, so you can stock up on everything you need to need to provide the very best care.

No matter how much you try to protect your residents, some injuries are inevitable, so it’s always best to be prepared. As well as stocking up on items such as dressings and bandages , it’s also important to ensure that staff are trained on proper wound dressing techniques, and...

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