For many wound care nurses, assessing and managing diabetic foot ulcers is a massive challenge. Each year, nearly 2,000 Ontarians undergo amputation as a result of these wounds. This statistic is frustrating for practitioners—especially because the outcome is usually avoidable.
In many cases, foot ulcers are preventable. And when they’re caught in time, they can often be treated effectively. Yet they frequently progress to the point where they become debilitating. Why?
If you’re a nurse, you probably know the answer. The often-invisible nature of foot ulcers is a big part of it. Nerve damage makes it hard for many diabetic patients to feel an ulcer forming, and small abrasions aren’t always seen.
Education can go a long way toward solving this problem. But simply telling someone what to do isn’t always enough. Verbal instructions are often forgotten—or misremembered. In many cases, what patients need is on-demand access to comprehensive resources.
More and more, people living with diabetes are going online to find the self-care information they need. Wound care nurses can help by ensuring that this information is useful and reliable.
It goes without saying that you should always recommend resources approved by the organization you work for. But it’s also worth your while to check out various sites that could help your patients. In those post, we’ll look at three valuable online resources.
It goes without saying that Diabetes Canada is a highly credible source of information. The national organization refers to itself as “the driving force to build awareness of [diabetes] and its complications.”
As a practitioner, you can rely on Diabetes Canada for clinical guidelines, research, and news of developments in the field. But the organization’s expertise isn’t just meant for health care professionals. With practical, easy-to-understand information on everything from diet and medications to local support groups, the Diabetes Canada website can help patients be proactive in managing their disease.
Given how much ground it covers, it’s not surprising that the site contains resources related to diabetic foot ulcers. One of the most useful documents is a page describing signs of potential foot problems. As a nurse, you make sure patients are aware that issues such as calluses, cracking skin, and numbness can signal a serious problem. You tell them what to look for, and when to get help.
But many patients need to see this information regularly, in a concisely-written format. For this reason, the Diabetes Canada website makes it easy to create copies of useful documents.
Checklists, informative articles, advice—the site provides patients with everything they need to take part in the wound assessment, management, and healing processes.
Some of the best places for patients to learn about diabetes-related wounds are the same resources you visit as a practitioner. Case in point: the Wounds Canada website.
Put simply, Wounds Canada is “the leading knowledge mobilization organization relating to wounds in Canada.” Needless to say, this is a non-profit that you—and the diabetics who rely on you—can trust.
Diabetic patients might not stumble on this website while googling their condition. But it would sense to recommend it in the right circumstances. For those who want to better understand how their disease can lead to ulcers, Wounds Canada provides a really good primer. Readers will learn the basic physiology of skin and wounds, as well as information that pertains specifically to pressure ulcers.
Its worth noting that the Wounds Canada site is easy to navigate. As a result, its easy for diabetic patients to find what they need to help keep their feet healthy. This includes general information on foot care teams, basic personal care instructions, and a list of questions for doctors.
The Diabetes Care Community was created largely to provide people living with diabetes with “counsel from Canadian diabetes experts.” These highly-qualified contributors include dieticians, pharmacists, social workers, and diabetes educators, among others.
The site also provides a community forum, where practitioners, caregivers—and, of course, patients—can “exchange experiences and support.” By not only providing credible information but fostering a sense of community, resources like the Diabetes Care Community can play a role in helping patients care for themselves holistically.
It should be noted that the Diabetes Care Community is sponsored by OneTouch, a glucose monitoring device that Aetonix is in no way affiliated with.
The Future of Foot Care Education
In the digital age, many diabetic patients are searching for relevant and helpful resources online. The websites listed above contain some of the most comprehensive, patient-friendly foot ulcer information on the internet.
That said, while education is critical, there’s a lot of misinformation out there. As much as possible, wound care practitioners should be aware of the health care resources their patients are consulting. Luckily, by pointing people in the right direction, you can help ensure that the world wide web supports positive health outcomes and high quality of life.
Despite its promise, the potential of digital health care hasn’t yet been fully realized. In the years to come, educational content will become more personalized for patients. As a practitioner, imagine having libraries of videos, images, and written instructions that clearly walk patients through wound assessments and self care instructions.
By making these resources easily accessible (on mobile devices, for example), practitioners will have the ability to truly empower diabetic patients. At Aetonix, we’re excited about being a part of this movement.
Feature image courtesy of Mu zI