Pressure Ulcers are described by the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NUAP) as a ‘localized injury to the skin and/or underlying tissue usually over a bony prominence, as a result of pressure, or pressure in combination with shear.’ Pressure ulcers in the elderly are a growing concern within our care settings as each person affected by this type of injury, adds an extra £4000 to their cost of care.
Because pressure ulcers are most common in those with limited movement, the bedridden and frail elderly are often at risk, which in turn puts care homes under pressure to cope with the additional demand.
For some elderly patients or care home residents, a pressure ulcer can become chronic very quickly and for no apparent reason. This can often be prolonged sometimes until their death. Higher category pressure ulcers for care home residents can sometimes lead to life threatening complications such as sepsis, which would result in hospitalisation, or fatality. In chronic cases of pressure ulcers in the elderly, ethical and end-of-life issues must also be considered.
Care home staff are expected to use a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach to the assessment and management of the elderly residents at risk, and must consider any existing pathologies (such as vascular disease), co-morbidities (such as dementia), level of mobility and nutrition. The aging and thinner skin of the elderly must be checked often.
Implementation of pressure relieving equipment within care homes, such as static and dynamic mattresses, has served to reduce the risk of pressure ulcers developing in the residents. Pressure relieving cushions can also help to support the elderly whilst out of bed, ensuring further comfort and protection to these vulnerable adults.