Wound management poses a significant challenge to the health care system. The Wound Management Innovation Collaborative Research Centre (Wound CRC) and Southern Cross Care (SA & NT) are together investigating innovative models for wound care in residential aged care sites in South Australia.
The pilot study, in collaboration with University of South Australia, is a first for both organisations and has the potential to lead to sustainable models of wound care and ultimately transform the lives of residents and avoid hospitalisations.
In Australia alone, it is estimated more than 433,000 people suffer from chronic wounds such as leg ulcers, pressure injuries or non-healing surgical wounds at any one time. However, the true incidence is unknown as many people never seek help for their wound problems.
Formal education and training for health care professionals is often fragmented due to wound care not being recognised as a discrete health care field. Commencing this month, Southern Cross Care will embark on a joint research initiative with the Wound CRC testing the benefits of targeted education and support services to improve wound care for residents as part of a hospital avoidance strategy.
The pilot study will be implemented at two Southern Cross Care residential aged care sites in South Australia, The Pines Lodge and Bucklands, with the initial stage involving data collection on current staff knowledge and an evaluation of the prevalence and severity of wounds in residents.
Southern Cross Care (SA & NT) chief executive officer (CEO) Andrew Larpent says of the collaboration “This is a wonderful direction for our organisation to be taking; to better understand this discrete health care field and introduce education and practices for staff, to ensure we continue to improve the lives of our residents is paramount to our ongoing work.”
A key area of activity for the Wound CRC is the dissemination of evidence-based best practice clinical resources to health care providers. As part of the pilot, they will provide Southern Cross Care staff with hands-on and remote education and training to improve their skills and knowledge in wound management and prevention strategies to ultimately achieve better outcomes for residents.
This study will test the benefits of the education program and support services to both staff and residents while also determining the cost effectiveness of this to an organisation as a whole. The expected outcomes include:
- Improved resident outcomes demonstrated by a reduction in the prevalence and severity of wounds.
- Improved staff knowledge, clinical skills proficiency and confidence in wound management and prevention.
- A cost efficiency analysis demonstrating the economic value of adopting education, prevention and support services.
The findings of the study will lead the development of a sustainable model for wound care and prevention in residential aged care, with the final model also leading the way for other settings such as hospitals and GP clinics in metropolitan and rural areas.