A recent study, published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing, looks at how the level of education about pressure sore prevention among nursing home staff affects the level of care provided to residents. The article, titled “Pressure ulcers: knowledge and attitude of nurses and nursing assistants in Belgian nursing homes”, relates the results of a survey of registered nurses and assistant. The survey team interviewed 145 nursing staff across 9 different nursing homes and observed the care of 615 residents.
The findings of the study show that knowledge about pressure sore prevention is very low, with registered nurses scoring on average 29.3%. The mean score for certified nursing assistants is even lower at 28.7%. RNs and nursing assistants are in charge of taking steps to prevent the development of pressure sores. And yet this study found that the full measures stipulated by nursing home guidelines were only carried out in 6.9% of residents designated as at risk for pressure sores.
Pressure sores, or Decubitus Ulcers, are areas of dead skin tissue, which can be very painful and lead to infection and the breakdown of skin and muscle. These sores arise from extended periods of unrelieved pressure on a person’s skin. They are commonly found on the joints, back, and head, where the skin contacts or rubs against a bed or chair. Pressure sores are classified in four stages of severity, with stage IV resulting in extreme skin breakdown to the extent that the bone may be exposed. Pressure sores of any stage are very painful and can lead to a lower quality of life.
The development of pressure ulcers is preventable. By moving and changing position periodically, pressure on the skin can be relieved and pressure sores prevented. Other factors such as a healthy diet and good hygiene also help. Nursing staff play a vital role in this process. They are responsible for turning and repositioning at risk residents as well as assisting in activities that help build muscle and maintain skin health. These nurses and nursing assistants should be informed of pressure ulcer prevention measures as well as the proper care procedures if for any reason a resident does develop an ulcer.
One of the main reasons that residents in nursing homes develop pressure sores is understaffing. Many nursing facilities do not have adequate numbers of staff to perform the duties necessary to prevent pressure ulcers in all of the residents. This does not excuse the facilities as the Patients Bill of Rights mandates that all those residing in care facilities have the right to be free from developing any bed sores. It is the responsibility of the nursing home to hire enough staff to properly care for all of the residents. The RNs and nursing assistants should also be fully educated, in subjects such as pressure sore prevention, so that they can provide the care and attention that each and every person in a nursing home deserves.