How to do it ... Wound care staff education

Few issues confronting long-term care administrators are more thoroughly vetted and researched than proper wound care techniques. But being rich in wound care information and poor in competent staff to provide it is a bad combination. Experts here provide advice on how to motivate and engage staff.

1. Constantly reinforce basics of proper wound care with both new and seasoned staff. 

“There are basic principles that even clinicians often ‘forget' to practice,” says Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP, Briggs Healthcare. “We still have a ways to go in educating our staff on hand washing and proper gloving techniques.”

Madison also believes a quick lesson in statistics can pay dividends.

“Provide staff with information regarding the cost of wound care and you'll get their attention in a hurry,” she says. “Management needs to reinforce the mantra that pressure ulcers are a problem faced by all health disciplines — not just nursing.”

Weekly wound evaluations help, says Gentell Inc.'s Glenn Paul. 

“Most facilities see a dramatic drop in wounds and a corresponding improvement in wound documentation,” he notes.

2. Make it easy for staff to get wound care education and training. Many administrators may be surprised to know that a lot of it is free and available 24 hours a day. 

Management should tap into their suppliers' wound care specialists. But there is also a plethora of online courses staff can take — many of which also provide continuing education units. McKnight's Online Expo is a good example of a way to earn CE credit without having to leave the facility.

“The desire to learn and provide compassionate care are common traits among healthcare providers,” says Margaret Falconio-West, BSN, RN, APN/CNS, CWOCN, DAPWCA, Medline. “And if you want to reinforce the importance of education and training, it needs to start with motivation.”  

Encourage in-services that allow staff to “touch and feel” the wound care products they'll be using.

“While it is a daunting challenge and probably unrealistic to expect live education programs to reach 100 percent of staff, facilities should take advantage of opportunities like eLearning programs, recorded webinars and in-service videos,” advises Elaine McGowan, BSN, RN, CWCN, DAPWCA, DermaRite Industries. 

Adds Eula Reynolds, RN, MSN, CWS, DermaRite: “Any time spent with staff to educate, such as monthly meetings, educational handouts on paydays, and brief ‘lunch and learn' type programs that address a single topic during lunch breaks, is well spent.” 

3. Mentoring is an often overlooked but invaluable method for keeping wound caregivers engaged, experts say. 

“Direct caregivers want to know what's happening with the residents they care for,” Madison says. “Nurses can be great teachers by bringing them into the fold and training them,” she adds. In absence of formal mentoring, “education will still be priceless because the CNA really feels like part of the team instead of the person that just does all the ‘grunt work' and is never appreciated.”

4. Encourage a multidisciplinary approach, but appoint a leader. 

 “If no one is taking a ‘big picture' view of a resident's schedule, a wound assessment and dressing change can slip down on the priority list and end up as the responsibility of a less experienced nurse on a less-than-well-staffed shift,” McGowan says. 

5. Make sure your facility is using the right wound care products. Avoid playing wound care product roulette, cautions Madison. 

“A facility with little experience in wound care can spend thousands of dollars trying out various wound treatments, sometimes not finding anything to heal the wound!” she says. “The ‘Let's-try-this-now-because-that-didn't-work-and-I-really-don't-know-what-to-do' approach to wound care is a wasteful practice.”  

“As we all know, there is not one single product that works for all situations, and staff are often confused as to which product to apply,” Reynolds says.