An evidence-based approach to the prevention and initial management of skin tears within the aged community setting: a best practice implementation project

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Abstract

Background

Maintaining skin integrity in a community setting is an ongoing issue, as research suggests that the prevalence of skin tears within the community is greater than that in an institutional setting. While skin tear prevention and management principles in these settings are similar to those in an acute care setting, consideration of the environmental and psychological factors of the client is pivotal to prevention in a community setting. Evidence suggests that home environment assessment, education for clients and care givers, and being proactive in improving activities of daily living in a community setting can significantly reduce the risk of sustaining skin tears.

Objectives

The aim of this implementation project was to assess and review current skin tear prevention and management practices within the community setting, and from this, to implement an evidence-based approach in the education of clients and staff on the prevention of skin tears. As well. the project aims to implement evidence-based principles to guide clinical practice in relation to the initial management of skin tears, and to determine strategies to overcome barriers and non-compliance.

Methods

The project utilized the Joanna Brigg's Institute Practical Application of Clinical Evidence System (PACES) audit tool for promoting changes in the community health setting. The implementation of this particular project is based in a region within Anglicare Southern Queensland. A small team was established and a baseline audit carried out. From this, multiple strategies were implemented to address non-compliance which included education resources for clients and caregivers, staff education sessions, and creating skin integrity kits to enable staff members to tend to skin tears, and from this a follow-up audit undertaken.

Results

Baseline audit results were slightly varied, from good to low compliance. From this, the need for staff and client education was highlighted. There were many improvements in the audit criteria following client and staff education sessions and staff self-directed learning packages (Appendix I, II and III). Future strategies required to sustain improvements in practice and make further progress are to introduce a readily available Anglicare Skin Integrity Assessment Tool to the nursing staff for undertaking new client admissions over 65 years, and to provide ongoing education to staff members, clients and care givers in order to reduce the prevalence of skin tears in the community setting.

Conclusions

This implementation project demonstrated the importance of education of personal care workers, clients and their caregivers for prevention of skin tears in the community setting. This in turn created autonomy and empowered clients to take control of their health.

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