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4 Ways ET Nurses Can Support Wound Care Champions

Last week, we published tips on being an effective wound care champion. Today, we’re looking at the practitioners who fill these roles from another perspective—the perspective of wound care specialists.

At Aetonix, we’re glad to see that wounds are starting to receive the attention they deserve. In the field, new knowledge and best practices are emerging. Not only that, but health care organizations across the country are designating their own wound care champions.

If you’re an enterostomal therapy (ET) nurse, these are welcome changes. You’re passionate about wound care that’s both evidence-informed and patient-centred. And now, health leaders and generalist nurses are beginning to understand just how important this type of care is.

But the movement is far from over. Planning research-backed initiatives is a crucial step in the right direction. But consistent delivery is key. And as any nurse who’s ever worked in home care knows, home environments aren’t always conducive to consistency.

Wound care champions may be ambitious, enthusiastic, and well trained. But there are lessons that a practitioner can only learn from years of specialist education and experience.

As an ET nurse, you have invaluable wisdom for wound care champions. By offering your guidance, you can shape the future of this rapidly-developing health care field. Here’s how.

1) Remember what it’s like being new to the field

In nursing, mastering new skills is an ongoing pursuit. And much of your time as a specialist goes toward staying up-to-date regarding recent developments.

Of course, there’s good reason for wound care champions to stay abreast of recent changes in the field, too. But chances, are they also have a lot of catching up to do. And you can help.

Do you remember the specific difficulties you had when you started developing your expertise? Was wound odour a stumbling block? Were there subtle signs of infection that were particularly difficult for you to identify? Perhaps getting a firm grasp on the terminology was a challenge (some wound terms are used ambiguously, even in medical communities).

Whatever challenges you had difficulty overcoming, it’s probable that the wound care champions you know could benefit from your perspective on them.

2) Provide on-the-job training

Wound care champions are beginning to bridge the gap between day-to-day care and specialized treatment. But the truth is, this gap will always exist. There simply aren’t enough ET nurses to see every patient who has a chronic wound on a regular basis.

As prepared as a generalist home care nurse may be for wound care, uncertainty is bound to arise. Because complex wounds can be unpredictable, it’s not always possible to anticipate infection and other issues. And to those without years of experience, symptoms of complications can sometimes be hard to spot.

Luckily, there are solutions. With the right communication technology, ET nurses can help wound care champions when they need it most.

Videoconferencing has advanced in recent years. Today, high-quality cameras can zoom in, allowing remote specialists to assess wounds. At the same time, the wound-related knowledge of home care nurses is also moving forward. Thanks to these two trends, you as an ET nurse are in a better position than ever before to coach nurses through wound care treatment remotely.

What does this mean for wound care champions? When you provide a champion with immediate access to your expertise while she’s on the job, you enable her to share new knowledge with her team. She may even suggest the use of high-quality telemedicine technologies within her organization.

3) Share relevant media with wound care champions

A picture’s worth a thousand words. This old adage is certainly true when it comes to educational materials. For a nurse providing wound care, seeing an image that perfectly illustrates a particular complication could help him treat it later on.

And what’s a video worth? Needless to say, a lot. Because video is even more dynamic than photographs, it can capture the appearance of wounds from various angles as a patient moves. And of course, video can include spoken instructions—an added advantage for verbal learners.

As an ET nurse, you’re highly qualified to find and share the right educational wound care resources—including demonstrative images and video.

It’s also worth noting that, if you’re working with a wound care champion, the sharing may go both ways. You can suggest media that clearly depicts common (and uncommon) wound care scenarios and best practices. And if you’re part of the same care team, a nurse champion may also want you to view (and assess) the wounds of a patient.

In the past, remotely sharing patient images, video, and health information was risky. But now, mobile apps with advanced security features make it possible for ET specialists, wound care champions, and the home care nurses who perform the bulk of day-to-day wound care to collaborate.

You can help by researching and suggesting appropriate media-sharing innovations to those most involved in wound care.

4) Remember that “patient-centred” is the goal

It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to become an ET nurse. So you know what it’s like to concentrate on something you’re passionate about. To fully absorb a lot of new information, single-minded focus is often required.

There’s no doubt that nurses aim to put patients first. In Ontario and across Canada, the idea of “patient-centred” care has never been more popular. But when a practitioner is learning a new skill set, he’s bound to have trouble devoting the same level of attention to other areas.

Wound care champions must take in and comprehend large volumes of new information—all while fulfilling their regular duties. The new work they do doesn’t always feel routine. Good practitioners don’t allow patients to suffer because they have a lot on their plates. But they may be just a tiny bit less aware of shifts in their patients’ goals, preferences, and levels of understanding.

As just one example, educating patients about self care can be hard when the nurse in charge of educating is in her own intense learning process. And studies show that teaching patients wound care skills is one of the biggest challenges for many home care agencies.

When ET nurses advise or work with wound care champions, they have a complete overview of the care these champions provide. They can offer gentle reminders that patient-centredness should always come first.

Feature image courtesy of DLG Images

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