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Nurse researcher seeks to raise public awareness of best ways to avoid pressure ulcers

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A nursing academic is seeking to raise awareness about pressure ulcers among the general public by visiting a busy railway station with a special demonstration chair.

Commuters will be asked to “take a seat” by two researchers from the University of Salford in order to raise awareness about the dangers of a condition that affects hundreds of thousands every year.

“We hope this event will help raise awareness of the problem among the general public”

Melanie Stephens

The university highlighted that ulcers affected 700,000 people each year and cost the NHS £3.8m every day. It added that, while the cost of managing ulcers had risen significantly over the last few years, there is “very little” official advice from health and social care organisations on how to avoid them.

As a result, adult nursing lecturer Melanie Stephens and occupational therapy lecturer Carol Bartley will be inviting people to sit on a specialist chair – the Careflex Hydrotilt All-round Support – while passing through Manchester Piccadilly train station.

The aim is to demonstrate to people the importance of the academic’s latest research into the best ways of avoiding pressure ulcers.

They will use special equipment to see how people’s seating position is putting pressure on certain areas of the skin and will provide advice about how they could sit differently or make adjustments.

The two academics recently worked with the Tissue Viability Society to develop a guide for patients, carers and healthcare professionals about the best ways to sit to avoid ulcers, based on research they have carried out with users.

Their advice, published in the Journal of Tissue Viability, includes making sure people get the right chair or wheelchair, making sure they change position regularly and that areas of the skin at risk of developing the ulcers are inspected every day.

University of Salford

Nurse researcher targets commuters on ulcer awareness

Careflex Hydrotilt chair

Ms Stephens said: “Pressure ulcers are a huge concern for hundreds of thousands of people every year, and can affect anyone who spends a long time sitting in the same position.

“They are 95% avoidable, but there has until now been a lack of robust clinical research about how to handle them,” she said.

She added: “We hope this event will help raise awareness of the problem among the general public – and maybe some of the people who try out our specialist equipment will have a loved one at risk of being affected and will be able to benefit from some of our advice.”

They will be based on the main concourse of Piccadilly Station from 12-5pm on Saturday 4 November.

The initiative forms part of this year’s Economic and Social Research Council Festival of Social Science. The event, in its fifteenth year, takes place from 4-11 November with over 300 free events across the UK.

It is designed to promote awareness of social science research by enabling academics to engage with the public through debates, workshops, talks, film screenings, theatre, exhibitions and other ways.

The council is the UK’s largest funder of research on the social and economic science. It also supports the development and training of social scientists and works with six other national research councils.

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