4 Tips for Being an Effective Wound Care Champion

There’s never been a greater need for specialized wound care. With chronic disease rates on the rise, more patients are living with longterm wounds than ever before.

Many of those who struggle most with wound-related symptoms live in their own homes. Outside of hospitals and other traditional care environments, infection and other complications can fly under the radar.

For this reason, at-home wound care patients need advocates. And one of the best ways for nurses and other care providers to practice advocacy is by promoting high-quality wound care.

Luckily, leaders are beginning to recognize just how important this issue is. In home care organizations across Ontario, relevant decision makers are seeking enthusiastic nurses to act as wound care champions.

If you’re a champion, your passion for delivering first-rate wound care probably isn’t new. You’re a trailblazer, and the health care sector is finally catching up.

Of course, being at the forefront of change isn’t easy. You’re a positive influence on other health care practitioners, which means there’s a whole lot of information you need to remember. In this post, we’ll look at a few guiding principles that wound care champions should keep in mind.

1)   Strive for consistency

If there’s one lesson health care practitioners learn again and again, it’s that consistency is key. Even minor deviations can derail a promising plan or policy, resulting in poor health outcomes and unhelpful data.

The best wound care champions are those who remember the value of consistent evidence-informed practice.

Knowledge of wound ethology and healing has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years. It goes without saying that practitioners need to find efficient ways of applying these new insights. But part of designing a system that works is ensuring that care can be delivered in consistent ways across various environments. How else can results be measured, evaluated, and improved upon?

Do all of the home care nurses within your organization know the wound care protocols? Are they aware of the potential consequences of failing to follow them? Evidence-informed care needs to be the goal—every time.

In order to impress this information on your fellow nurses, you—as a wound care champion—must find straightforward ways to convey it.

2)   Remember the importance of prevention

Careful wound management is important. We’ve highlighted this startling statistic before: one-third of home care patients have wound care needs. If you’re a wound care champion, this number won’t surprise you.

That said, focusing on care for existing wounds can cause practitioners to overlook the importance of prevention. Yes, it’s critical to reduce pain, suffering, and embarrassment. But what if you could help patients avoid these symptoms altogether?

Up to 70% of older adults have skin conditions. Within this population—and among those who are at risk for skin breakdown—maintaining skin integrity is important.

All nurses should know how critical it is to perform regular skin integrity assessments on at-risk patients. Unfortunately, as you’re all too aware, dealing with the unexpected is a big part of nursing. New priorities are continuously arising, which can disrupt regular evaluation schedules.

If you’re a wound care specialist, think about how you can stress the preventative value of regular assessments. And ensure that other nurses in your organization thoroughly understand relevant assessment tools.

3)   Lobby for change

Taking action to change government policy isn’t just for professional lobbyists. In Ontario and across Canada, nurses are becoming more involved in educating politicians about the needs of their patients.

The annual “day on the hill” provides space for nurses to voice their points of view in parliament. And in the last few years, wound care practitioners in particular have been making strides toward advancing the interests of those they provide care for.

If you’re a wound care champion, you may want to get involved in provincial advocacy activities. After all, lobbying is about speaking up for those whose challenges you understand. Who better to ensure that government officials takes the problems associated with chronic wounds seriously than those who treat them?

If you belong to a professional wound care association, then you already know that furthering the goals of your organization is about furthering the health outcomes of those you care for. Government advocacy is a huge part of establishing progress.

So how do you start? Effective lobbying is about simplifying complex issues and providing evidence to support your viewpoint. There are a number of resources available to help you take political action—confidently.

4)   Encourage patient self care

What role should patients play in managing their chronic wounds? If you’re a wound care specialist—or any type of home care worker in Ontario—you probably know the answer.

Home care should always be patient-centred. This means that patient goals and preferences should be central to the health care services they receive. But a person with a chronic wounds can do so much more to improve her condition than offer input. Just consider the position of the the South West Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), which describes patients as the most important members of their own wound care teams.

As a wound care champion, you probably strive to not only facilitate evidence-informed wound care, but to empower those who are struggling with chronic wounds.

Whenever possible, provide patients with the information and encouragement they need to optimize their own healing. Promote the implementation of holistic wound treatment into patient care plans. And above all, ensure that patients know where to turn if they suspect something is wrong.

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