Patients who are treating wounds at home may have a goal of healing, comfort, or maintenance depending upon the situation. The patient and family members or caregivers must be part of the goal setting and treatment plan for wound healing to be successful. An understanding of the care required and factors that may influence the care plan is essential.
Home healthcare for wounds
More than a third of patients seen by a home healthcare service are receiving treatment for wounds. Home healthcare nurses are presented with the unique opportunity to assess the home setting as well as observe and educate the patient and caregivers in proper wound care at home. Home healthcare nurses are also an integral part of the wound care team. These nurses translate physician orders to the patient and caregivers while also assisting the physician in determining the best wound care products to use based upon caregiver abilities and the home environment. Advances in telemedicine also allow the home health nurse to consult with a wound specialist or physician from remote locations.
Keep it simple
Patients and care providers need to understand the basics of wound care and the individual treatment plan to successfully care for a wound. However, patients don’t need to stress about becoming experts in wound care. Three basic strategies can set a patient up for success. These include:
Nutrition, particularly a high-protein diet
Proper technique for dressing changes
Recognition of a healthy wound versus an infected wound
Nutritional support in the form of dietary supplements may be needed. This could be in the form of shakes or powder additives or patients could increase protein intake with peanut butter, nuts, lean meats, and cheese. Proper technique primarily focuses on keeping dirty and clean supplies separate, good handwashing, and using the agreed upon wound care products. Watching for signs and symptoms of infection generally can be condensed to three signs: color, drainage, and odor.
Making resources available
Not only must the patient have adequate resources to obtain the necessary wound care supplies but must also have the knowledge of when to contact a professional for questions or assistance. Confidence in the treatment plan and recognition of a wound that isn’t progressing as anticipated provides the patient and caregivers a guide for when to contact the wound nurse or physician. On the other hand, knowing a professional is a phone call away provides reassurance that help is available when needed. Patients can speak with a healthcare provider regarding tips and best practices for wound care.