Frontline staff across the continuum are eager to learn and become more empowered in skin breakdown prevention, says Kim Kehoe, BSN, RN, CWOCN, DAPWCA, Medline clinical nurse specialist, Acute Care Division. “Skin health is just not pressure injuries,” she says. “It’s about other manifestations of skin damage, such as skin tears and medical adhesive-related skin injury (MARSI). Frontline staff recognizes that skin health is important.”
What does an empowered frontline staff look like?
There’s a defined system in place.
Ideally, the wound care nurse is a resource and expert, not a tasker, says Margaret Falconio-West, BSN, RN, APN/CNS, CWOCN, DAPWCA, Medline senior vice president, Clinical Services, Acute Care Division. Frontline staff, nursing directors and executives and administrators turn to him or her for expertise and leadership. Standardized processes are in place to simplify choices for staff. Most important, wound care nurses fully embrace their role in empowering staff.
The facility is staffed appropriately.
Other Medline specialists say that adequate staffing comes first in empowering staff. The issue is attracting national attention as acute and post-acute settings treat higher acuity patients and residents than ever before. “On the acute side, nurses can end up taking care of six or more patients if they’re not fully staffed,” says Amy Robison, BS, RN, CWOCN, CFCN, Medline clinical education specialist, Post-acute Division. “Our patients are too sick for that,” says the one-time acute care nurse. “We need to have enough patient care technicians (PCTs) or nursing assistants to assist with the basics of skin care—meaning the preventive side of skin care,” she adds. “We must have guidelines to assist frontline staff, particularly in the absence of a wound care expert at a facility.”
Staff is confident and inquisitive.
Confident nurses are knowledgeable and not afraid to ask questions, says Patricia Turner, RN, BSN, CWS, CWOCN, Medline clinical nurse specialist, Acute Care Division. “When they do ask for something, the solution must be tangible, concrete and something that a facility or institution can easily deliver. Their requests must be actionable.” Confident nurses also act independently. Rather than immediately consult a wound care nurse, “they are able to thoroughly assess, treat, or figure out certain aspects of skin care or wound care,” she says.
People feel appreciated.
Recognition comes in many forms—a simple thank you, a note of appreciation, a small gift, an excellence award, a clothing allowance or a call-out in a facility’s newsletter. It also can come from many people—the director of nursing, the wound care nurse, or an executive or administrator. “It’s important to recognize that nurses are in the trenches and making a difference,” Robison says.