Comfort and Skin Care
Comfort influences functional performance. As a caregiver there are a number of signs for you to watch out for, especially as needs change throughout your loved one’s journey. To equip you with the right guidance we’ve outlined best practices for maximizing comfort.
Comfort is related to function and quality of life. As a caregiver you are required to be in tune with the individual’s tolerance levels for sitting in different positions throughout the day. However, a lot of this may be new territory for you, or you may require a refresher on things to watch out for, as there is a lot of information to absorb when you are determining the right kind of care needs for your loved one.
In this checklist we have compiled a list of questions you can take with you when meeting with your clinician. This will also allow you to take notes which you can refer back to when you need to have the information close at hand.
- Does the individual over-heat and run warm? Do they tend to feel the cold more? Do certain fabric textures annoy them?
- Does the patient get tired easily? Why? Lack of adequate postural supports can tire them further.
- Is the patient going to be having surgery soon/ in the near future/ next year? How does this affect the custom seating solution?
- Does the patient suffer from seizure activity? Can they stay seated during this activity or do they need to be placed in recline or removed from the seating system quickly?
- Can you recline the custom seating system?
- Do they wear other positioning/orthotic devices such as a body brace?
- Is there a tray or a table that can be used with the custom seating system or does the caregiver and patient have something in place already?
- Does the patient suffer from pain? What kind of pain? Custom seating can often assist with peripheral nervous system pain.
Skin Care / Pressure Injuries
Custom seating, like Ottobock’s OBSS system, manages skin care issues through advancements in foam technology and through capturing the shape of the individual. However, with general aging or as needs change, you should monitor the skin for redness and pressure injuries that can occur so you are able to manage them as they arise.
There are specific scales and guidelines that clinicians use to determine the risk of the patient to develop pressure issues. Here are some at-home methods you can apply when checking for these issues:
- Look for skin redness. This is the first sign that a pressure injury could be developing. The areas that tend to be most at risk of skin redness are under the boney prominences such as our ‘sitting bones’, the skin area just in front of these bones on the bottom, the outside of the hips, backs of knees, heels, shoulder blades and elbows. Also check where there are skin folds as these tend to be moist areas which can lead to sores.
- Keep the skin dry. When there is a sore it is preferable to keep this area aired, however, your clinician will advise on management.
- Make sure your loved one changes position frequently. This can be achieved through leaning forward or using tilt-in-space on their seating system. This helps to shift their body mass to a different position, which relieves the pressure on the sitting area.
- Ensure your loved ones pockets are empty. Items in trouser pockets can lead to skin redness.
- Ensure your loved one drinks plenty of fluids throughout the day.
- If their cushion has gel or air pockets make sure they are positioned under their ‘sitting bones’ and hips so that they are giving relief when sitting.
There is also a national website that you can rely upon for instant access to studies and developments that will help educate and inform you on the matter. This can be found on the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel website.