Survey reveals chronic foot wounds require wound dressing changes almost every other day.
Living with an open wound for almost a year has become the ‘new normal’ in the UK according to a new survey.
A third of people with diabetes-related foot ulcers reported their wound has a “high impact on their quality of life” with an average of five wound dressing changes each week.
More than 200 people with chronic wounds took part in a survey carried out by wound care providers Mölnlycke.
More than 2.8 million people in the UK are currently living with a chronic wound. The survey reported that the average patient with a chronic wound is affected for more than 8 months, with an estimated 300,000 (11%) patients going beyond the 1 year mark.
The majority (80%) of patients required dressing changes at least twice a week and more than a third (35%) required daily dressing changes.
One in four have their dressing changed by a nurse at their local GP surgery and (4%) by a specialist nurse at a wound care clinic.
However for many chronic wound sufferers, mobility is affected and some patients may be housebound: 20% of patients reported being dependent on nurses or healthcare assistants visiting them at home, up to 7 days a week.
Dr Una Adderley, Lecturer in Community Nursing at the University of Leeds, who leads the Legs Matter coalition (who campaign for better wound care), said: “Community nurses, such as practice nurses and district nurses, are really under pressure when it comes to wound patients.
“Wound care forms a large part of the nursing caseload and it is becoming increasingly difficult for these nurses to give patients the time and care they need. In this study, patients report an average dressing time of 18 minutes, but this is rarely enough time to provide the care that is needed.
“When nurses have more time with each patient to give good quality assessment and appropriate care, we see better healing and improved patient quality of life.”
The impact of living with a chronic wound on patients’ lives was highlighted as 30% reported feeling “powerless,” and around a quarter (23%) reported feeling depressed.
In addition, the burden of living with a wound affected patient’s lives on a day-to-day basis, with 18% unable to work full time and a further 15% unable to work at all. Living with a wound can also lead to social isolation, with more than a quarter (26%) seeing friends or family less and nearly half (48%) struggling to exercise or walk for long periods.
With everyday activities being a struggle, many patients reported relying on pain killers (33%) or sleeping pills (10%) to ease their discomfort, while 13% reported needing anti-depressants to cope.
If you have a wound which does not heal see your podiatrist immediately.
Read the DRWF leaflet How can diabetes affect my feet?