Can A High-tech Mattress Take The Place of Staff Involvement When It Comes To Pressure Sore Prevention?

Can A Mattress Make a Difference in Bed Sore PreventionA great number of nursing home residents (approximately 11 percent) suffer from pressure sores. Not only are these pressure sores extremely painful, but they may also be life-threatening if these sores become infected. The primary reason that nursing home patients suffer from these pressure sores is that nursing home staff members fail to provide (temporary) relief by turning the patient regularly. In order to prevent pressure sores, it is important for staff members to turn residents every two hours. However, research suggests that something else may help alleviate these problems.

A new high-tech mattress

Nancy Bergstrom, Ph.D., Houston School of Nursing associate dean at The University of Texas Health Science Center is leading a study into high-density foam mattresses for nursing home residents. She and other researchers found that when nursing homes use these high-density foam mattresses, it is not necessary to turn a resident every two hours in order to help prevent the development of pressure sores.

In a randomized controlled trial of at-risk residents, the researchers found that there is no difference in the occurrence of pressure sores for residents that staff members turn at intervals of two, three, or four hours. This means that the residents that were only turned every four hours did not develop pressure sores any faster than those who were turned every two hours.

Why this matters

While pressure sores are a serious health problem, it is important to note that this is not just a health-related issue. It is also about improving care for the residents. If staff members have to turn residents every two hours throughout the night, the residents are going to be awake. Many residents already have a hard time sleeping, being woken up certainly does not help. This reduces the overall quality of life.

More information about the study

The TURN study (Turning for Ulcer ReductioN) was held amongst residents who are at a high to moderate risk of developing pressure sores. The study randomly assigned participants to turning intervals of two, three, or four hours. By using a checklist at each turn to document skincare, brief condition, heel position, and type of reposition, it was possible to determine whether there was a difference between the intervals. During the study, no serious pressure ulcers developed amongst the residents.

The study found that when using high-density mattresses, it might not be necessary to turn residents every two hours. This means that the freed up time may be used to attend to other needs, including assisted mobility, feeding, and will ultimately help the staff develop a stronger relationship with the residents of the nursing home.

Despite the fact that these mattresses help relieve a number of different problems, it is important to note that turning certainly is not unnecessary, it just means that it can be done at lengthier intervals. This would mean that the residents can sleep more and it would prevent pressure sores that develop when staff members are unable to turn the patient every two hours. That is certainly something that we can all get behind.