PROACT - working to prevent pressure ulcers

Sunderland CARE Academy, a collaboration of partners from health, social care, education and the voluntary sector, is supporting an important project, PROACT, to identify and reduce the amount of pressure ulcers (bed sores) in our community.

Pressure ulcers, which are often preventable, cost the NHS up to £4billion a year* and can cause long term pain and distress for patients.

It is estimated that just under half a million people in the UK will develop at least one pressure ulcer, in any given year, if they don’t know how to prevent them.

PROACT aims to identify gaps in care across health and social care settings, and provide staff with the skills to make sure we prevent people suffering unnecessarily.

Pressure ulcers can be life threatening and have a devastating impact on patients and their families but they are preventable.  We want to raise awareness of how to prevent pressure ulcers with the public, carers and healthcare professionals who work in health and social care settings.

Ahead of the PROACT launch health professionals gathered to pledge their commitment to sign up to the React to Red campaign to help prevent pressure ulcers.  Landmarks across Sunderland and South Tyneside have been lit up red to highlight the campaign, which will see a series of awareness and educational meetings and events held across the two boroughs.

A separate arm of educational sessions will be held with healthcare professionals working in care homes.

We launched the campaign on World Stop the Pressure Day, 16 November, but this is an issue all year round.

PROACT will help us look at the prevalence of pressure ulcers in the community and help highlight how they can be prevented.

Who is at risk?

You are most at risk if you:

  • cannot move easily
  • have poor nutrition
  • have a health condition
  • are aged over 70
  • suffer from incontinence

Check your skin regularly to spot the warning signs that a pressure ulcer is forming. Look out for discolouring, soreness and pain, particularly in areas where your bones are close to the skin, such as your bottom and your heels.

Patients, family members and carers

As a patient, family member or carer there are five simple things you can do while in hospital, community care or in your own home to prevent a pressure ulcer developing:

  1. Regularly check skin isn’t sore or discoloured in anyway. If it is let a healthcare professional know
  2. It’s really important you keep moving while in bed or on a chair. Change your position as much as possible when appropriate
  3. When you’re unwell or immobile going to the toilet can be difficult. Ensure that skin is clean and dry or ask for help
  4. Eat a well balanced diet and drink plenty of fluids
  5. Special equipment is available for those at risk of developing pressure ulcers. Ask for help and your healthcare professional will advise you. The biggest message is, if you need help don’t be afraid to ask!