The four pillars of healthy skin promotion that drive positive outcomes
Across aged care in Australia, it is estimated there are approximately 10,400 pressure injuries and 2,500 other ulcers per year, with treatment costing approximately AUD$66 million. Further, the financial costs of wounds, is also personal costs as chronic wounds being linked to poorer quality of life. Additionally, wound management has been highlighted by the Aged Care Quality Standards Commission and the Royal Commission into Aged Care.
Southern Cross Care (SCC) recognises that there are four key pillars to healthy skin promotion and effective wound management that have directly influenced positive skin integrity and wound healing outcomes. The pillars are: (1) Education and Mentoring (wound champions, education and clinical leadership); (2) Healthy Ageing and Better for life approach (3) Clinical Governance and Surveillance; and (4) Clinical Pathways incorporating a Standardised Product Selection System: Simply by HARTMANN. At SCC, these pillars have been instrumental in achieving a 73% reduction in facility acquired pressure injuries across a 16 month period (Sept 2019 – Feb 2021), in addition to a 20% reduction in total wounds and a 30% reduction in skin tears across a 12 month period (Sept 2019-2020).
The development, implementation and ongoing improvement of the wound champion program continues to achieve a variety of positive outcomes for residents through a focus on the four pillars of healthy skin promotion. At every opportunity, wound champions place the resident’s wellbeing at the centre of the management plan by advocating for their preferences and their right to healthy skin that facilitates better quality of life. The program fosters a culture of critical reasoning amongst nurses to achieve better outcomes for residents by reducing wound prevalence and shortening healing time. These success stories and overall wound trends are shared regularly with SCC’s Board and subcommittees to enhance clinical governance and organisational oversight.