A hospice in North East England has received national recognition for its “pioneering” use of technology to prevent pressure ulcers.
Nursing staff at Marie Curie Hospice, Newcastle, were able to reduce the incidence of pressure ulcers by almost half thanks to a revolutionary skin-scanning device.
“This new technology and innovation has helped provide significant improvements in care to patients”
The organisation has been awarded an Innovation in Care Award from Hospice UK for the work.
The SEM (sub-epidermal moisture) scanner, funded by the Albert Hunt Trust, was trialled for six months and marked the first time it had been used in a hospice setting.
At the end of the trial, staff had achieved a 47% reduction in pressures ulcers among patients, a breakthrough success that was celebrated at Hospice UK’s Innovation Awards 2018.
Because of the scanner, staff at the hospice were able to detect tissue damage deep beneath the skin surface days before it was visible, explained Marie Curie.
The charity noted that this was “significantly earlier” than what was previously possible when visual skin inspections were used.
Detecting the warning signs earlier meant nursing staff were able to take preventative measures to help minimise patients’ chances of developing painful pressure damage. This included using pressure-relieving mattresses and applying barrier creams.
“We are delighted that this new approach to a long-term challenge has been recognised with this award from Hospice UK”
Gillian Raine, lead nurse at the Marie Curie Hospice, Newcastle, said: “As the first hospice in the UK to trial the SEM scanner, we are delighted that this new approach to a long-term challenge has been recognised with this award from Hospice UK.
“Through the introduction of this pioneering approach to skin assessment, we have not only demonstrated our credentials as leaders in our field, but also our commitment to improving the quality of life for those living with terminal illness and their families,” she added.
Julie Pearce, executive director of nursing at Marie Curie, said the charity was very proud to have won the award and of its “fantastic team” at the Newcastle hospice.
“This new technology and innovation has helped provide significant improvements in care to patients,” she noted.
Ms Pearce added: “The hospice’s desire to provide the best possible care for their patients is at the heart of what they do and I’m excited to think about how their trial could benefit patients across the whole country.”
As previously reported by Nursing Times, the SEM Scanner is a wireless non-invasive handheld device that assesses sub-epidermal moisture, or SEM, a biophysical marker that has been found to detect early-stage pressure ulcers beneath the skin surface as much as 10 days earlier than visual inspection by nurses.
The Marie Curie Hospice in Newcastle was the first in the UK to test the device with patients who have a palliative care needs. The trial started in November, 2017 and saw all staff on the 22-bed unit – including staff nurses, healthcare assistants and sisters – trained on how to use the hand-held scanner.
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It was originally conceived by Barbara Bates-Jensen, a wound care nursing expert and professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, and has been tested at a number of hospital sites and across other care settings in the UK.