Regardless of how much you attempt to protect care home residents from accidents, sometimes injuries do occur, which is why it is crucial that you and your team are always prepared for the unexpected, as you never know what could happen.
As well as ensuring that you are well stocked up with bandages and dressings - something we will discuss further below - it is also crucial that you ensure the entirety of your care home team are trained when it comes to caring for wounds. This should include implementing good hygiene practices to minimise infection risk, as well as understanding a range of methods for dressing wounds properly.
It is also important to ensure that your team is aware that when it comes to wound healing, older people are more likely than younger people to experience delayed wound healing. There are many reasons why older people tend to heal more slowly than younger people, including reduced skin elasticity and delayed inflammatory response. Medications can also be to blame for this.
Why might wound care be necessary for a care home resident?
When it comes to learning about wound care, it is vital to ensure that your team understands how wounds may occur, so that wherever possible, these can be prevented. For preventing the majority of accidents, risk assessments can be highly beneficial, as they can allow you to determine where the biggest risks are, and find ways to mitigate these risks, keeping care home residents safer while in your care.
You can also use a risk assessment to determine what wounds are likely to occur so that you can ensure that the correct bandages are stocked for dealing with the accidents that are likely to occur. Usually, the most common causes of wounds in care homes are trips and falls, pressure ulcers and burns.
Why is good hygiene important?
Wounds can easily become infected, which is why following good hygiene practices is so vital. Wounds that don’t become infected tend to heal more quickly and are less painful. When a wound becomes infected, it can lead to all sorts of complications, as well as pain.
Taking special care of wounds is important to ensure that wounds do not become infected. The key to doing this is ensuring that your care home follows good hygiene practices, such as making sure that all team members wash their hands with antibacterial soap and apply gloves before cleaning or checking on wounds. When it comes to hygiene, it is also important to ensure that when a resident is bathing, their wound is kept clean and dry, as water can slow down the healing process.
How can wound healing be aided?
For helping to ensure that wounds heal quickly, care home staff can support residents in a number of different ways. These include the taking the following steps:
- Changing wound dressings on a regular basis, to help reduce the risk of infection in open wounds and sores.
- Selecting the correct dressing or bandage for each different wound, which can help to speed up healing and prevent infection from occurring.
- Watching for signs of infection, such as a high fever, vomiting, redness, and pain, and seeking immediate medical help.
- Keeping on top of other conditions that can make wound healing slower, with the use of effective medication and monitoring.
- Ensuring that residents follow a healthy diet that is high in vitamins and minerals, as well as ensuring that they take any vitamins and supplements recommended to help with the process of wound healing.
- Understanding the skin healing pattern and checking for signs that the skin is failing to heal properly. In this instance, consulting a doctor would be beneficial to ensure that the wound does not begin to get worse.
What about bandages and dressings?
When it comes to wound healing, it is vital to ensure that healing is as fast and effective as possible, for this using the right dressing is crucial. The type of dressing used for dressing a wound should always depend on various factors, including the type of injury, the size, location, and severity.
At CLH Healthcare, we have a range of different wound dressings on offer, each of which is ideal for treating different wounds. From hydrogel and hydrocolloid to alginate dressings, we have a wide range of options on offer.
To make the process of choosing the right wound dressing for the injury, that little bit easier, we have put together the guide below, detailing what each of the seven most commonly used wound dressings should be used for.
Hydrocolloid dressings can be used on burns, wounds that are emitting liquid, necrotic wounds, pressure ulcers, and venous ulcers. These are non-breathable dressings that are self-adhesive and require no taping. The flexible material that they are made from makes them comfortable to wear and suitable for even the most sensitive of skin types.
How these dressings work is by creating moist conditions which help to heal certain wounds; the surface is coated with a substance which contains polysaccharides and other polymers which absorb water and form a gel, keeping the wound clean, protecting it from infection, and helping it to heal more quickly.
Hydrocolloid dressings are impermeable to bacteria, which is what makes them so effective at preventing infections. They are also long-lasting, biodegradable, and easy to apply.
Hydrogel can be used for a range of wounds that are leaking little or no fluid, and are painful or necrotic wounds, or are pressure ulcers or donor sites. Hydrogel can also be used for second-degree burns and infected wounds.
Hydrogel dressings are designed to maximise patient comfort and reduce pain while helping to heal wounds or burns and fight infection. The cooling gel in products like Burn Soothe are what makes them so effective at reducing pain and speeding up the healing process.
Alginate dressings are made to offer effective protection for wounds that have high amounts of drainage, and burns, venous ulcers, packing wounds, and higher state pressure ulcers. These dressings absorb excess liquid and create a gel that helps to deal the wound or burn more quickly. Containing sodium and seaweed fibres, these dressings are able to absorb high amounts of fluid, plus they are biodegradable after use.
These dressings require changing around every two days, sometimes more, due to the amount of liquid that they absorb and the nature of the wound. Changing them too often could cause too much dryness or could lead to bacteria penetrating the wound. These should only be used for wet wounds with high liquid drainage; else they can hinder healing by drying out wounds too quickly.
Collagen dressings can be used for chronic wounds or stalled wounds, pressure sores, transplant sites, surgical wounds, ulcers, burns, or injuries with a large surface area. These dressings act as a scaffolding for new cells to grow and can be highly effective when it comes to healing.
Collagen dressings encourage the wound healing process in a range of ways; these include by helping to remove dead tissue, aiding the growth of new blood vessels, and helping to bring the wound edges together, effectively speeding up healing.
For wounds of varying degrees of severity, foam dressings can work incredibly well, as well as for injuries that exhibit odours. Foam dressings absorb exudates from the wound’s surface, creating an environment that promotes faster healing.
These dressings allow water vapour to enter, keeping the area moist, promoting faster healing, but prevent bacteria from entering the affected area. These dressings come in various sizes and shapes, as well as in a range of adhesive and non-adhesive options.
Transparent dressings are useful for when medical professionals or carers want to monitor wound healing, as these dressings cover the wound with a clear film. These make identifying potential complications much easier, such as by making infections easier to spot at an earlier time. For this reason, these kinds of dressings are often used on surgical incision sites, on burns and ulcers, and on IV sites.
These dressings are breathable but impermeable to bacteria, helping to keep the wound clean and dry, preventing infection and speeding up healing. They are also flexible, which makes them comfortable to wear.
Cloth dressings are the most commonly used dressings, often used to protect open wounds or areas of broken skin. They are suitable for minor injuries such as grazes, cuts or areas of delicate skin.
These dressings come in all shapes and sizes, from small coverings for fingers to larger ones for wounds across wider areas of the body. As well as pre-cut dressings, these also come in a roll option that is made to be cut to size.
There you have it, everything that you and your team should know and understand about dealing with wounds in your care home.
For supplies or more information on any of these dressings, please visit: www.clhgroup.co.uk or phone 01392 823233