The Truth Behind Bed Sores in Nursing Homes
Many families struggle with the decision to place a loved one in a nursing home. When a loved one is unable to be out of bed without assistance or is unable to sufficiently move or shift themselves when in bed, the care needed to prevent bed sores requires more attention than most families can provide.
Bed sores, also known as pressure sores or decubitus ulcers, occur when there is unrelieved pressure over the skin over bony areas of the body prevents oxygenated blood from getting to the skin. Over time, the skin will die and cause an open sore, which can grow in size without proper care. Like any other wound, the sore can become infected, and ultimately cause death.
The term “bed sore” is very descriptive way to explaining the most common circumstances by which most pressure sores develop: Unrelieved pressure while in bed. But sores can also come from prolonged sitting, like in a wheelchair. Sores are most common over the coccyx (the thin skin area just above the buttocks), heels of the feet, elbows, hips, and shoulders. The sore start with redness to the skin (Stage 1), then the skin can break open (Stage 2), deepen(Stage 3), and then go so deep as to reach bone (Stage 4).
Most of us are able to move our body enough to avoid sores. We do so without even thinking about it. Any who has sat along time in the same place will start to notice discomfort, and shift weight off the area to a more comfortable position. However, some nursing home residents have health conditions that prevent them from moving themselves frequently enough to prevent sores. Many of those residents still have a good quality of life, with a healthy mind, loving family, and an interest in activities that make their lives fulfilling despite their debility. They just need help moving their bodies while in bed or in a wheelchair.
Nursing homes are required to know which residents are at risk for developing pressure sores and provide care to prevent sores. The nursing home is required to check residents’ skin on a frequent basis, and make sure the resident is getting sufficient food and water to keep them healthy. The most important thing a nursing home must do is help residents at risk for bedsores turn and reposition in bed. They must document the care provided, and contact the resident’s doctor and family when redness first appears.
Except in extreme circumstances, bedsores are avoidable with good care. The development of a bedsore is a red flag for neglect. If your loved one is in a nursing home and has some level of immobility, it is advisable to check their skin frequently. At a minimum, frequently discuss the concern for pressure sores with staff and ask staff to check for sores while you are visiting so you know your loved one’s skin is being checked.
If your loved has developed bedsores while in a nursing home, contact us today for a free case evaluation.