The pressure sores compensation claim relating to the case of 85-year old Freda Jobson, who developed the worst level of pressure sores when in a residential care home, has highlighted the need for greater awareness of how they develop and how they can, and should be prevented.
We see many families who are unaware that pressure sores are almost always avoidable when appropriate care is provided.
Indeed, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), 95% of pressure sores and bed sores are easily preventable through appropriate mobility checks.
It is important that families are aware of the dangers of pressure sores developing in people who remain in the same position for a long period of time, for example someone who is bedridden, disabled or confined to a wheelchair.
Pressure sores are often mistakenly considered not to be serious by relatives, but they can lead to serious infections of the spine, and in worst case scenarios, can even result in death.
Families can and should question the care being provided to their loved ones if they are unable to move on their own when in a care home. We recommend asking the following questions of care providers.
1.Has my relative been appropriately assessed for risk of developing pressure sores?
When admitted to a hospital or care home, people should be assessed to see whether they are at risk of developing a pressure ulcer as soon as possible. This is particularly important if the individual has problems moving or changing position without help, if they are seriously ill or having an operation, have problems with memory and understanding (such as with dementia), or have an injury which affects how they move.
2. How often is my relative being moved into a different position?
Simply changing position is one of the best ways of preventing a pressure ulcer, as it reduces and relives pressure on areas that are most susceptible (bony parts of the body). Guidance is that adults considered at a high risk should be moved every six hours, children every four hours. Be sure to ask that this is being done and check such moves are being recorded on your relative’s care records.
3.Has a special mattress, overlays or cushions been provided?
This is a commonly used solution to prevent pressure sores developing, and care providers should consider using high-specification foam theatre mattresses to minimise the pressure on areas of skin at risk. Plans should also be considered for people who are sitting for prolonged periods to have cushions to reduce the pressure on susceptible areas.
4.What are the specifics of the care plan in place to prevent pressure sores?
A care plan should be agreed with the patient and their family that explains how treatment will be provided to avoid the development of pressure ulcers. It should cover the results of the initial skin assessment, how best to relieve pressure to skin areas at particular risk, how often their position should be changed and any other problems related to pressure ulcers (for example, if the patient have difficulty moving).
5.Has my relative been assessed by a dietitian or other qualified healthcare professional?
A specific diet should be devised for someone deemed at high risk of developing pressure sores to ensure they are getting enough particular nutrients. You, and the person in care, should be given a balanced diet to maintain an adequate nutritional status, taking into account energy, protein and micronutrient requirements.
Should you or a relative have concerns over treatment regarding pressure sores and ulcers, our team of specialist solicitors can provide free legal advice as to whether you may be in a position to make a pressure sores compensation claim.
Hudgell Solicitors are campaigning for CCTV to be made compulsory in all UK care homes, as we believe it will lead to improved standards and benefits for families including increased protection against abuse, both physical and mental, by care home staff or other residents, and greater confidence for families when placing their relatives within the care industry.