Wound Care Tips for Caregivers
Most patients have families who are providing some level of care and support. In the case of older persons and those with chronic disabilities of all ages, this “informal care” can be substantial in scope, intensity, and duration. Each and every day includes a long line of duties when you’re providing care for a loved one who has a chronic condition, disabled or is an older person.
This blog offers several basic wound care tips. While these suggestions should be useful in many cases, check with your loved one’s doctor for information about his or her specific condition.
As the primary caregiver for a loved one’s wounds, your most important job is to prevent infection—not only because infection can lengthen the wound healing process, but also because certain infections can be life-threatening.
When you have to add wound care to the list of things to do, the challenge of providing at home wound care might seem overwhelming at first.
To help you feel more empowered while tackling this new and difficult responsibility, Wound Specialist Services offer these tips for ensuring you have the information you need to help manage and reduce the risk of wound problems.
Pressure injuries, also known as pressure ulcers or bedsores are one of the most common types of wounds. They can be life-threatening if left untreated. Pressure injuries may be caused by unrelieved pressure over bony prominences such as the heels or the bottom, because of sitting or lying in one position for an extended period of time. They can also occur because of the presence of constant moisture or from rubbing or slipping down in the bed or chair.
Following are some recommendations for avoiding pressure injuries:
- Use appropriate support surface such as a specialised mattress or cushion
- Change position at least every two hours in bed and every hour in a chair
- Avoid using donut-type devices
- When lying on the side, use pillows between legs
Look for any persistent areas of skin redness or discolored for more than 30 minutes after their position has changed. This is typically the first visible sign of a pressure ulcer, which will later progress to a blue or purple color. Pressure ulcers are also sometimes associated with a change in skin temperature or texture.
When resting in a bed: If you’re providing at home wound care for someone who has trouble moving on their own, help them change position at least every two hours they are in bed. To maximize bed sores prevention, make sure they are using a commercially available pressure reducing mattress, but avoid those that resemble egg crate foam. Place a pillow under their calves to prevent their heels from touching the bed and use pillows and foam wedges to keep their ankles and knees apart.
When resting in a chair: If you’re assisting someone who has difficulty getting around on their own, help them reposition at least once every hour when they are sitting. If you notice your loved one sitting with their legs crossed, encourage them to shift to a new position since crossed legs can reduce blood flow and put pressure on their nerves and blood vessels.
SKIN TEARS AND SENIORS
Are you providing wound care at home for an older adult? Take extra care to be gentle when helping them move during routine activities to avoid causing any unnecessary friction when shifting in a chair or rolling over in a bed because these actions can result in skin tears. If damage does occur, aid the healing process by dressing the new, minor wound with a protective, non-adherent dressing. Monitor all skin tears, and seek professional medical help ASAP for your loved one if you see any signs of infection.
Diabetic foot ulcers
If you’re helping provide wound care at home to a patient with diabetes, keep an eye on their feet. Diabetic foot ulcers can form as a result of anything from shoes that don’t fit quite right to blisters and cuts.
People who have diabetes don’t always notice when they have pain on their feet because of nerve damage which causes a loss of feeling. Please check out our other blog Preventing Diabetic Foot Ulcers for more information.
Venous ulcers happen most often in people who are overweight. These wounds are caused from inflammation related to venous hypertension. Even once these types of ulcers are healed, there is a possibility for recurrence.
If you’re helping provide in-home wound care to a patient who has (or has had) venous ulcers, monitor them closely and do what you can to help prevent disability and amputation by helping your loved one lose weight. Work with them to create plan that promotes getting in some daily exercise (via an activity like walking) to increase blood flow to their legs, which may also result in the benefit of reducing their healing time and helping to prevent future venous ulcers.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself, too
Acting as a caregiver for a loved one can be stressful. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Pay attention to your own mood and watch out for any signs of depression.
Wound Specialist Services provides dedicated wound care in Australia
Even with the best plan for at-home wound care during wound healing, your loved one may still need professional medical help. Once your loved one has a wound, it is crucial to get a proper treatment plan in place as soon as possible to make sure healing starts ASAP.
Wound Specialist Services has state-of-the-art wound care technology and access to multidisciplinary team of health care professionals ready to help your loved one. If your wound healing process begins to slow or reverse (or if new wounds or infections appear), schedule an appointment.