My name is Petra Osborne, and I’m one of the nurses on the ward at the hospice, Searle House. This is where we care for our seriously ill patients who need intensive support and care in the last weeks and days of their lives. We also look after people who need help with symptoms, people who will go home after we have helped them for a short while. We think our patients deserve to be as comfortable as possible at these critical times.
With end of life care, comfort is just so important and we need the right equipment to help us. We have specialist beds and mattresses to help keep our patients pain free. But as with all technology, specialist equipment is costly.
That's why three of the 12 beds on our ward are ‘high low’ beds. These beds are incredible when it comes to the safety of some of our patients. They can go as low as just 10 inches off the floor for patients that are unsteady and at risk of falling when they get out of bed. And, they have alarms which can alert us if someone is waking, or patients with mobility problems are trying to get up unaided.
Our ward is often full and we are now having to choose which patients have the greatest need for the ‘high low’ beds which isn’t the high level of nursing care we want to provide. Over time it would be great to have all our beds replaced but we urgently need one more now so that we can make sure we are giving that exceptional care to our patients who are most at risk of falling.
Most of us have heard of pressure sores and ulcers, but did you realise how painful they can be?
For those patients who are so poorly that they have to remain in bed and have a very limited range of movement, they are at risk of developing pressure sores and ulcers, especially where the skin is so thin and delicate such as the lower back or heels.
The wounds that develop from pressure can be incredibly painful, causing even more distress to patients when they are at their most vulnerable.
That's why all of our beds have specialist mattresses that use an air pump to help to relieve pressure. The air pump sends gentle, almost imperceptible ripples of air flowing through the mattress varying the pressure on the skin for even greater relief and comfort.
However our current mattresses are aging, the pumps need parts replacing more often; we have to move patients when this happens to get the repairs done and they don’t offer the same level of comfort that they used to.
It’s not just the larger items that help with patient comfort, we really look at all the detail of what each person needs as the small things can really matter too.
Generally, for a bed bound patient, two nurses need to roll a patient on their side, slide a
turning aid under them, roll them back onto it, then move them up or down a bed. They repeat the process to get them off it. By using specialist slide sheets, a patient can lie still on them and be slid up or down the bed rather than having to be rolled.
These are made up of a mattress cover and an oversized sheet, which work together, gliding across each other so that we can slide the patient up or down to change their position in the bed, as gently as possible, causing the minimal amount of disturbance and greatly reducing the pain and discomfort that would occur if we had to help change their position by hand.
"Mum has been made very comfortable and has been treated with such care and tenderness - we're only sorry she didn't get to spend more of her 'conscious' time here."