Sunderland project launched to tackle pressure ulcers

The Sunderland PROACT team.
The Sunderland PROACT team.

Sunderland CARE Academy, a collaboration of partners from health, education, social care and the voluntary sector, has launched a pioneering research project, PROACT, to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of pressure ulcers (bed sores) with the public and across a wide range of care settings.

Pressure ulcers cost the NHS up to £4billion a year and can cause long term pain and distress for patients.

Landmarks across Sunderland were lit up in red ahead of the launch in support of the national pressure ulcer prevention campaign, React to Red, on World Stop the Pressure Day last month.

NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group’s Ann Fox (Executive Director of Nursing, Quality and Safety) said: “It is estimated that just under half a million people in the UK will develop at least one pressure ulcer, in any given year. Recognising and being aware the signs and symptoms of pressure ulcers is key to preventing this painful condition. In many cases, pressure ulcers are often preventable.”

Ralph Boutflower, Tissue Viability Specialist Practitioner at City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our hospitals have seen big improvements in reducing pressure ulcers, but the big challenge we have at the moment is people who develop pressure ulcers either in care settings or in their own homes.”

University of Sunderland’s Dr Yitka Graham said: “PROACT aims to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of pressure ulcers and provide staff with the skills to make sure we prevent people suffering unnecessarily.

Pressure ulcers can be life threatening and have a devastating impact on patients and their families but they are preventable. The PROACT team will work to prevent pressure ulcers by raising awareness with the public and within the range of care settings across Sunderland.”

Ahead of the PROACT launch, health and care professionals gathered at a frailty conference in Sunderland to support the national React to Red campaign and commit to attending a series of PROACT awareness and educational meetings and events.

A separate arm of educational sessions will be held with care homes staff.

Ann Fox said: “This is an issue all year round and it can often be prevented by following simple actions.

“PROACT will help us identify the prevalence of pressure ulcers in care settings and help us assess what work we can do to increase prevention.”

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As a patient, family member or carer there are five simple things you can do while in hospital, community care or in your own home to prevent a pressure ulcer developing:

1. Regularly check skin isn’t sore or discoloured in anyway. If it is let a healthcare professional know

2. It’s really important you keep moving while in bed or on a chair. Change your position as much as possible when appropriate

3. When you’re unwell or immobile going to the toilet can be difficult. Ensure that skin is clean and dry or ask for help

4. Eat a well-balanced diet and drink plenty of fluids

5. Special equipment is available for those at risk of developing pressure ulcers. Ask for help and your healthcare professional will advise you. The biggest message is, if you need help don’t be afraid to ask!