This course discusses multiple types of wounds that are seen by practitioners in the home health, assisted living, and nursing home settings. As healthcare professionals, the greatest impact we can have is to provide education for our patients, families, caregivers, and each other. The ability to speak to our patients in simple, clear, and concise language greatly benefits everyone involved in their care. Encouraging and empowering caregivers is an important step in patient independence and healing. As caregivers for our patients, families, and their loved ones, our job is to inspire and motivate to create a space of healing and kindness.
Overall, the job of wound care is to teach patients and caregivers how to prevent complications, promote proper wound healing, perform appropriate dressing changes, observe complications, report any abnormal occurrences, and initiate positive lifestyle changes.
Educating the Patient
Patient education requires a collaborative approach among all disciplines, including social work, case management, respiratory therapy—and clergy, if desired. We must address multiple areas as we determine how the patient and caregiver are best able to learn; this includes not only the ability and readiness to learn but also any barriers to learning.
Culture, religion and language differences demand that teaching be adjusted to the patient and caregivers. Emotional, physical, cognitive, and financial limitations are additional issues. Teaching can be both formal and informal, and techniques should be varied to ensure multiple opportunities to retain and comprehend the information and to allow time for questions. Teaching methods used can be lecture, diagram, demonstration, teach-back, discussion, literature and hand-outs.
It is important not to assume anything about the patient or caregiver. Give information in small increments, with as many senses engaged as possible. Address the patient’s goals during the teaching sessions. Always observe the patient and caregiver as they perform wound care, correcting as necessary and providing encouragement.
Documenting of information taught plus any barriers to learning, learning preferences, teaching methods, and evaluation, is helpful to guide other disciplines and to promote patient/caregiver progress. The goal of patient education is to improve the patient’s quality of life and to address any challenges to a healthier life.
A Team Approach
Great outcomes grow from great collaboration. Successful clinicians utilize all possible resources in an effort to obtain the best possible patient outcomes. Wound care, especially, requires input and knowledge from all parties involved, including most of all the caregiver. Never underestimate the value of team discussion and brainstorming.
Ask questions and gather as much information as possible to determine an optimal care plan. Adjust, assess, and reevaluate as needed, especially when the wound healing has stalled. The patient must be involved and onboard with the plan of care or there will be no forward motion. Successfully involving patient and caregivers make all the difference in healing success.
Questions you should continue to ask with each visit to any patient include:
- Who are the key players needed in wound prevention?
- What areas of the skin are we looking at?
- What do you think the caregivers want to learn?
Focusing with each visit on patient and caregiver education about skin care basics, importance of prevention, and the benefits of healthy habits can lead to a safe and happy outcome. Improving quality of life is always the first objective for all patients. Skin care and wound prevention is a group effort that takes constant collaboration, education, and cooperation from the entire healthcare team. There are many ways we serve our patients on a daily basis. Wound prevention is one of the greatest gifts we can provide patients and caregivers to keep them safe and healthy at home.