Floor staff lack of knowledge can lead to incorrect pressures being set for therapy mattresses or complete system failure. A resident can be left in agony and be unable to communicate their pain.
After more than a decade of designing and supplying air alternating mattress systems, I keep personally observing and also hearing feedback from Biomedical technicians across Australia all pointing to the same issue.
The lack of knowledge of general floor staff towards air therapy surfaces used under high risk residents or residents being treated for existing pressure wounds.
Aged Care Facilities are experiencing a difficult time with increased regulatory requirements on the one hand and higher care costs on the other. The salaries they can afford to pay for non clinical carers who's responsibility is the day to day care of the residents, is extremely limited. In addition, the number of clinically qualified staff is also limited which puts further strain on resident care.
The traditional solution for staff lack of knowledge is supplier in-servicing and education on the therapy surfaces supplied.
This however, has a number of drawbacks.
- Staff Members may not have English as their first language leading to a lack of understanding during the in-service.
- An in-service only reaches those staff on duty at the time or at best, two shifts when changing. It does not reach night duty staff
- If staff members do not understand a point being made in an in-service they may be too hesitant to ask for clarification
- Facilities often have more than one brand of therapy surface in use, in-servicing one brand may not apply to another
- Staff often transfer between facilities and different groups and may miss scheduled in-services and have to use different mattress systems entirely
The resulting lack of knowledge can be distressing. A common example often given by technicians visiting sites is as follows.
The resident is lying in bed on a faulty air therapy mattress. This fault is often due to the air hoses being pulled out or the power being accidentally switched off (eg, to plug in a vacuum cleaner or radio). The resulting mattress audio alarm has been muted by floor staff annoyed by the noise. The resident has bottomed out onto the underlying mattress or bed base and is in extreme pain. If non lucid or unable to communicate, they are left alone in pain and with developing pressure ulcers.
At the end of the day, it does not matter how expensive or sophisticated the air therapy system is, it comes down to the knowledge and experience of the floor staff on duty at the time. No matter how caring and kind they are, their actions can often have unintended adverse affects on the resident's health and skin integrity. A corrective response by the facilities' clinical team can often come to late.
New technology that places patient therapy directly in the hands of the Clinical Team.
For the last four years, Patient Support Systems has developed TheraCloud, the world's first WiFi enabled alternating therapy surface allowing the clinical team to directly monitor and control each therapy surface in the facility. More importantly however, it allows immediate email or text notification if a system failure occurs, enabling fast response and resident care. The power of this technology bypasses floor staff who can concentrate on other areas of resident care enabling better quality of life for the resident and a better bottom line for the facility.
For more information on how TheraCloud works, please select the YouTube link attached to this article.
Call us on 1800 432 247 to discuss how TheraCloud can help your facility.