Hospital department celebrates significant caring milestone

A department at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals (DBTH) which is responsible for caring for the Trust’s elderly and most vulnerable patients is celebrating an entire year without a severe, avoidable hospital acquired pressure ulcer.

The Care Group known as Musculoskeletal (MSK) and Frailty contains 14 wards and departments across Doncaster, Bassetlaw and Mexborough and has the largest bed-base within the Trust, looking after older and more infirm patients, often living with dementia.

From 19 October 2016 to the same date in 2017, the Care Group has not had any patient in their care suffer a severe, avoidable hospital acquired pressure ulcer, with some wards having gone over four years since the harm occurred. To celebrate this achievement, the wards were visited by their Matrons, Head of Nursing, the Trust’s Skin Integrity Team and presented with an award and various tasty treats. Chief Executive, Richard Parker joined the team on the Frailty Assessment Unit to thank all the staff involved in this remarkable achievement.

Cindy Storer, Head of Nursing and Quality for Musculoskeletal and Frailty at the Trust, said: “Reaching this milestone is an outstanding achievement and one which every member of the MSK Care Group at DBTH should be proud of. Each and every day our team work hard to ensure our patients receive the best quality care, treating people who are acutely unwell as well as ensuring proactive steps are taken in order to ensure preventable harms, such as pressure ulcers, do not occur.”

A common problem in hospitals, pressure ulcers, also known as bed sores, develop when the skin and underlying tissue becomes damaged usually from being confined to lying in a bed or sitting for long periods of time.  They can range in severity from patches of discoloured skin to open wounds which can cause distress to both patients and their carers.  With the correct skin care, knowledge and expertise, many of these sores can be avoided.

Over the past number of years, the Care Group has been working hard to improve the hospital experience for older and frail patients. Routinely going above and beyond what is known as ‘normal’ ward care, the team put a great deal of emphasis on the individual, tailoring treatment to their needs, with particular importance placed upon preventing injuries that may occur such as falls and pressure ulcers.

Supported by projects such as ‘#EndPJParalysis’ and ‘24 Hour Rehab’, patients are encouraged to move away from their beds and make use of each ward’s facilities, whether that’s getting up for a bite to eat or joining other patients in the day room to socialise or watch television. Eating well is also an important part of healthy skin and patients are given meals that are nutritious and appetising, often served on china plates and tea cups.

Staff have also been trained in skin care and the types of moisturising barrier creams and dressings to use when a patient’s skin is at risk of damage.  Another important part of this success is the adoption of ‘open’ visiting times for relatives and carers to visit at any time of the day or night as guardians of patient safety.

Richard Parker, Chief Executive at the Trust, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for the Trust and highlights the important, caring and innovative work of our staff. I want to say ‘thank you’ to every member of staff who has made this milestone possible and for consistently putting the patient safety at the heart of everything they do.”

No stranger to accolades, the Care Group Were finalists in the Care of Older People category for the prestigious Nursing Times Awards 2017.