The Duchess of Kent Wing at St Peter's

There has been a big reduction over the past year in the number of patients suffering from hospital acquired pressure ulcers - generally known as bed sores - in Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals.

The Trust is committed to zero tolerance for hospital-acquired pressure damage. Training in pressure area care and pressure ulcer prevention is mandatory for clinical staff and there is a Trust Pressure Ulcer Pledge that all staff are asked to sign up to.

People who have limited mobility, poor nutrition, are suffering from certain conditions, are over or under weight and/or smoke are more at risk of developing a pressure ulcer. Ulcers/sores vary in severity from red areas on the skin to open wounds which can lead to bacterial infection if not treated.

People with normal mobility do not usually develop pressure ulcers, as their body automatically makes hundreds of regular movements that prevent pressure building up on any part of their body.

For example, you may think that you are lying still when asleep, but you may shift position up to 20 times a night.

The Trust’s Tissue Viability Team were invited to present their work on reducing pressure ulcers at an event for NHS staff across Kent, Surrey and Sussex in May.

To further help with prevention, staff use the SSKIN mnemonic:

  • S - Skin and risk assessment: All patients who are at risk of pressure ulcers have a daily skin inspection –
  • S - Surface: The Trust has a selection of appropriate mattresses, cushions, heel protectors and skin pads for those at risk of pressure damage.
  • K - Keep moving: Patients at risk of pressure damage are assisted to reposition.
  • I - Incontinence : Management of moisture on the skin using barrier creams and wipes helps prevent tissue breakdown.
  • N - Nutrition: Good nutrition and hydration are important in keeping skin healthy to reduce the risk of pressure ulcers that patients are well nourished and hydrated.

There is also a React to RED campaign so if an area of red skin is found over an area of pressure staff are asked to Reposition, Escalate and Document.

Sue Harris, Lead Nurse Tissue Viability, said, “We are really pleased with the significant progress the Trust has made so far in reducing hospital acquired pressure ulcers. Exceeding our set targets, is a real achievement.”