Care staff need to understand how to treat and refer on diabetes-related foot ulcers, which affect up to a quarter of diabetics, to prevent amputations, a wound expert says.
Alarmingly, up to 80 per cent of people with a diabetic foot ulcer go on to have amputation according to Annie Walsh, a senior podiatrist at Liverpool Hospital High Risk Foot Services.
Research shows that early intervention reduces the progression from ulceration to amputation, she said.
“It is so important that all staff have an understanding of these wounds, how to treat them and when to refer on,” Ms Walsh told Australian Ageing Agenda.
Ms Walsh was speaking ahead of her appearance at a special wound conference in Sydney that aged care provider Uniting is hosting for its staff. While the two-day conference is open to Uniting staff only, AAA will be reporting from the event to share lessons from expert presenters with other professionals.
Ms Walsh’s presentation will cover the high-risk foot, types of wounds commonly found on the foot, and treatment and management strategies.
“As people age, their propensity for wounds increases and this is borne out in what we see across our services – and the sector,” said Linda Justin, Uniting’s director of practice and quality.
The conference aims to increase staff knowledge and understanding of chronic wounds and address challenges to managing them.
Uniting provides services to clients in its residential aged care facilities, at the Uniting War Memorial Hospital and through home care.
The event will provide professional development for around 300 staff so they can implement sustainable strategies to manage and treat wounds should and when they occur, Ms Justin said.
“We are looking at a holistic and preventative approach to health and wellbeing. Issues such as diet and frailty impact on the propensity for wounds in people as they age. In turn, wound care also impacts on quality of life.
“Adopting best practice to prevent and treat wounds, including reducing healing times, allows people to live life to their full capacity,” Ms Justin said.
Elsewhere at the event, Uniting wound clinical consultant Hayley Puckeridge will discuss quality of life in a session that aims to illustrate how wound management approaches require a holistic approach.
“Delegates will see how we can work together not only to improve wounds, healing times, and wound management, but also improve lives,” Ms Puckeridge said.
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