Keep education fun for aides

Tips for successful pressure ulcer program

Pressure ulcer education is pretty straightforward for nurses who want up-to-date clinical information that will help them select the best interventions to prevent pressure ulcers and the best treatments to help their patients with ulcers, says Terri Edmiston, RN, MSN, clinical manager for Parkview Hospital Home Health and Hospice in Huntington, IN. Finding creative ways to teach aides is a little more of a challenge because you have to make them see how it applies to their patient care responsibilities, Edmiston adds. The more visual and participatory the activity, the more effective it is, she says.

"I have found three demonstrations that make learning fun but reinforce the teaching," says Edmiston. The demonstrations that she incorporates into her aides' pressure ulcer classes are:

• Use colored water to demonstrate the different properties of different barrier creams, suggests Edmiston. "Have an aide apply a cream to her hand, then place the hand in a bowl of colored water," she says. As the aides observe which creams repel water and which absorb water, discuss the specific situations to use each cream and why, she adds.

• Because poor nutrition is an indicator of high risk for pressure ulcers, be sure to discuss reasons for poor eating habits, says Edmiston. Poor vision can affect how attractive a meal might appear to the patient, which will diminish the patient's interest in eating, she says. To demonstrate the situation, she smears petroleum jelly on glasses and then has the aides wear them while she serves them food on colored plates. "I will put blue M&Ms on a blue plate to show how hard it might be to see the food," she says. "I will also have aides wear gloves that are too big to simulate arthritis and have them try to get the food off the plates." These activities help aides understand how they might make food more appealing to their patients, she adds.

• The importance of keeping skin moisturized is demonstrated by placing the dry outer skin of an onion in the bottom of a tube sock and asking the aide to remove it without tearing it, says Edmiston. "This is a very visual demonstration of how important moisturizing the skin is," she points out.