How to do it... Wound Care

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Healing power
Healing power
Because of an ongoing emphasis on pressure ulcer care and prevention, it is no wonder that nursing directors are looking for ways for their staff to become as sharp as possible when it comes to wound care. Although not all aides or nurses can become degree-bearing experts, virtually all can become more authoritative, experts say. The following are some of their top recommendations for building a staff full of wound care “specialists:” 

1 - Take advantage of vendor knowledge. Many vendors, some of them former providers themselves, have numerous free sources of good information.

“Our goal is always to raise awareness. It helps the treatment of wounds,” says Scott Cost, product manager for Hartmann-Conco Inc., Rock Hill, SC. “Ask manufacturers or their vendors to actually come in and give in-services. While you might get a slanted view of PR or services, you should get a good overview of wound healing overall.”

2 - Vendors sometimes include continuing education credits, adds Angie McKessor, vice president of marketing for Southwest Technologies of Kansas City, MO.

“Southwest offers a CEU if they read our paper and take a five-question test and submit it,” McKessor noted. 

“We all try to provide easy, simple-to-do formats. Most of us  have additional supporting tools beyond our product lines,” she said.

3 - Cost said that the area where caregivers are typically most deficient is recognizing the proper protocol for a chronic wound.

“They tend to look at each wound the same. If someone has a pressure ulcer, nurses often say, ‘Oh, I've treated tons of pressure ulcers.' But they need to know the underlying cause of why there's a pressure ulcer, and what's happened,” he explained.

4 - Probing deeper is advisable, and sometimes so is trying to keep treatment simpler, says John Newton, director of product management for Ferris Manufacturing, Burr Ridge, IL.

“Simplify your wound care with one formulation that can be used, from wound identification through closure,” he said.

5 - Appropriately choosing sleeping support surfaces can go a long way toward better wound care practices. Learning how to read a pressure gradient map, which illustrates rates of change for pressure points, is an important skill, says Jack Sheehan, director of sales and marketing for Tempurpedic Medical, Lexington, KY.

“The clinician just needs to ask about them and make sure the vendor can give the information,” Sheehan says. “The National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP) has said the whole thing about pressure relief and average pressures on pressure maps is not really indicative of the performance of a surface.”

6 - Nursing directors can make good use of online sources to create more authoritative caregivers.
For example, nurses can read some wound journals online for free, such as those at http://o-wm.com/ and www.woundsresearch.com/.

A source for free pressure ulcer training programs online, where nurses also can receive CEU credits, is http://thewoundinstitute.com/.

7 - Another excellent way to spread knowledge among staff members is to form an interdisciplinary wound care team. It can meet weekly and review individual wound care resident records, trends with skin breakdown prevalence and incidence. Members also can review new wound care products and identify staff training needs, says Donna Sardina, president of the Wound Care Education Institute.

8 - Facilities also can offer an annual wound-care skills fair for staff, Sardina suggests.

Set up various training stations around the room and have staff rotate through them, she recommends. Station ideas include: wound care measurement, positioning station, nutrition station, wound staging station and adaptive equipment station. To help man the stations, recruit help from the physical therapy department, wound care product vendors and wound consultants.

Other in-house activities can include creating crosswords or word search puzzles that focus on skin care and pressure ulcer prevention, or “skill of the week” posters, which focus on various key aspects of wound care treatment and prevention. 

“Place skill posters in staff work areas or even in staff bathroom stalls,” Sardina says. “Replace the posters with new ones for a new skill every few weeks.” 

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Mistakes to avoid

Not continually challenging staff members to learn new skills, or review old ones

Not reading professional magazines and journals to keep up to date on the latest wound care technology

Expecting greater wound care knowledge knowledge and skills out of staff but not clearly explaining why they're needed
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