What is pressure care?
Pressure care products are a type of specialised equipment to help both reduce the risk of and encourage the healing of pressure sores, also known as pressure ulcers or bed sores. Choosing the right type and level of pressure care is critical in helping to achieve this.
What are the main causes of pressure damage?
Pressure sores tend to happen when people spend long periods in a bed or a chair. The 3 primary contributing factors for pressure sores are:
Continuous pressure on parts of the body can decrease the blood flow to that area
Friction occurs when the skin rubs against clothing or bedding and can cause damage
This occurs due to a combination of friction and downward pressure and causes deep tissue damage
While it’s possible to develop a pressure sore anywhere on the body, the main areas most likely to develop them are:
- Back of head
- Shoulder area
- Coccyx region (around the tailbone)
- Lower legs and feet
What to do if you think your loved one needs pressure care equipment
If you’re concerned that a loved one may be at risk of getting pressure sores, you can help them by the doing the following:
Keep them moving
Prevention is better than cure. Encouraging them to adjust their position regularly will allow blood flow and reduce the risk of developing a pressure sore (you may have to help someone change position if they are unable to do this themselves). This could include regularly raising heels off the bed or lifting parts of the body that are regularly in contact with surfaces.
If your loved one uses a wheelchair try and take the weight off their buttocks by moving them frequently.
It’s a good idea to inspect their skin for the early signs of pressure damage – this may just be redness. If you notice early signs of pressure damage, it’s important to take action to avoid the skin getting worse.
What else can I do to help prevent pressure sores?
As well as keeping them moving and inspecting their skin, to help reduce their risk of developing pressure sores make sure that they:
- Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of fluids
- Keep their skin dry (in areas such as between the cheeks of the bottom)
- Keep their skin moisturised
What aids are there to help with pressure care?
Low risk pressure cushions
These cushions are designed to help prevent sores and provide comfort for those who are seated for long periods of time but are considered to be at a lower risk of developing pressure sores. Low risk pressure cushions are generally made from memory foam and are designed to reduce localised pressure.
Low risk pressure cushions need to fit edge to edge of the intended chair. You should also consider the depth of the cushion, as while the deeper cushions can offer better pressure relief it could mean your loved one’s feet don’t touch the floor, which isn’t ideal.
Two options to consider are the Modular Foam Pressure Cushion and the Sero Pressure Cushion. You can find the rest of the chair pressure cushions here.
High risk pressure cushions
These are cushions designed for those at a higher risk of developing pressure sores or who already have them. The gel pressure cushions are made of highly resilient, layered CMHR foam with a profiled upper surface. The inside is filled with a silicone gel and has been designed for use with wheelchairs and day chairs.
If your loved one has existing pressure damage you might like to consider a high risk pressure cushion like the Visco II Pressure Care Cushion.
Repose pressure care
The Repose range consists of a variety of pressure redistribution pads to help reduce the risk of pressure damage. The range includes:
Parafricta pressure care
Parafricta have a range of products designed to help reduce the risk of pressure damage and help support those who already have pressure sores. Their products are all made in part with a special fabric that helps to reduce the risk of friction and shear.
The range includes:
- Parafricta underwear
These come in several different styles to suit the individual such as slip-on boxer style, slip on style briefs and Velcro-closure briefs. They’re designed to protect the bottom and sacral area against pressure damage and skin breakdown
- Parafricta booties
Available with Velcro-closure or in a slip-on style, these booties offer protection against pressure damage and skin breakdown for vulnerable areas of the foot and ankle
- Parafricta bedding
This is a great option for use with pressure care mattresses for extra protection as the Parafricta range of bedding includes flat sheets, fitted sheets, semi-fitted sheets, and pillowcases designed to help provide all-round pressure care protection to the body
Pressure care mattresses
There are different types of mattresses depending on your needs. It can be a little tricky to know where to start, but the below should give you some pointers.
Memory foam pressure relieving mattresses
These are a great option to consider for those who may spend long periods of time in bed or who may not be in a position to reposition in bed independently, potentially putting them at an increased risk of developing pressure sores.
These mattresses are made entirely with foam and no coils. They tend to provide above-average contouring to the body, pressure relief, and motion isolation. The outer cover is a multi-stretch, polyurethane fabric cover that is hardwearing, waterproof, and breathable for improved hygiene. These covers can usually be easily removed and machine washed for excellent levels of hygiene and cleanliness.
Memory foam pressure relieving mattresses are usually suitable for a vast majority of bed types including standard beds and profiling beds.
Low risk mattress
For someone at a low risk of developing pressure sores, the Invacare Essential Basic Profiling Mattress could be a great option to consider. It’s made from a specially designed supportive foam that helps to dissipates any pressure that builds up in localised areas, keeping your loved one comfortable and relaxed.
Medium risk mattress
If your loved one needs pressure care suitable for a medium risk level, why not try the CasaSolo Pressure Mattress? It can be used with most bed types and is fitted with a two way stretch fabric cover, to reduce shear and friction forces. This cover is both vapour permeable and waterproof, which helps to improve hygiene.
High risk mattress
For someone at a high risk of pressure damage an air flow mattress may be just the thing to help them. The Apollo 8 Airflow Mattress, for example, is able to adjust to the body’s shape and position for maximum comfort. It’s suitable for those with existing tissue damage and can be used as both a static and a dynamic mattress. The cover can be washed at up to 95 degrees to make sure it stays hygienic.
Where to turn for support
In the first instance, if you have concerns about your loved one’s risk of developing pressure sores, it’s always a good idea to speak to their GP or care team to see if they can offer any help or advice.
If you need any help with a pressure care product on our site, please contact our Expert Advice Service where one of our team of Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants will be happy to assist you.