Nurses urged to seek wound care training to deal with ‘hidden affliction’: chronic wound cases to soar with ageing population

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Nurses are being called on to stay up-to-date with the latest in wound care and prevention to help reduce the impact of Australia’s ‘hidden affliction’ of chronic wounds.

Wounds Australia is highlighting the central role that nurses play in the treatment of wounds, as part of Wound Awareness Week from 15 to 21 July 2018.

Although chronic wounds can be healed, they often go untreated because Australians are ‘blind to wounds’. Many people don’t recognise that when they have a non-healing wound they should immediately seek medical support to treat it.

“Chronic wounds are a hidden affliction in Australia and must be recognised as a serious health issue to safeguard our ageing population,” said Wounds Australia CEO Anne Buck.

“Nurses are well placed to identify and educate patients at risk of chronic wounds. It is important that they are able to deliver best practice wound care to their patients,” said Ms Buck.

People who don’t realise they have a chronic wound can suffer without treatment for years.

David Templeman lived unknowingly with a chronic wound for most of his life, after injuring his leg playing football in 1970.

While David assumed it was a minor injury, his leg continued to bother him. But it wasn’t until February 2017 when he sought treatment after a major flare up in the same spot that he discovered he’d been living with a venous leg ulcer – which can be treated and healed.

During Wound Awareness Week, Wounds Australia is calling on nurses to ‘Talk About Wounds’: encouraging conversations with their patients about wounds that won’t heal so they understand the wound warning signs, who’s at risk, and what action to take if they have a chronic wound.

“I wish I knew to ask the question ‘is this a chronic wound?” said David. “My one piece of advice is that you shouldn’t suffer in silence – if a wound doesn’t show signs of healing within 4 weeks, you need to treat it seriously and seek appropriate medical assistance.”

Wounds Australia is urging nurses to build their expertise in wound management by continuing their professional development with the peak body for wound care and management.

Wounds Australia CEO Anne Buck is encouraging nurses to build their wound care skills with evidence-based education.

“One of the key barriers we’ve seen for all health care professionals – from GPs and nurses to Indigenous health workers and pharmacists – is a lack of ongoing wound care education. With continual development of their skills, patients will receive the best care, and they will reduce the impact that chronic wounds are having on the population.”

Chronic wounds are an alarmingly common problem costing Australia’s health system $3 billion annually. The number of sufferers is expected to soar due to Australia’s ageing population because people aged 65+ are most at risk.

Wound Awareness Week is an annual initiative of Wounds Australia – the peak body for wound care and management in Australia through advocacy, education and research. For more information on Wound Awareness Week and chronic wounds, visit the Wound Aware website.

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