Pressure care – why is it important and what is the role of an occupational therapist?

When sitting or lying for long periods of time there is significant pressure on the bony prominences in the body. This can be different depending on someone’s seating or lying position.

One key aspect of pressure care for people who are at high risk for developing a pressure injury is for them to change their position on a regular basis. This should be done at least every 4 hours*.

Occupational therapists play a key role in a variety of ways to help assess, monitor and help reduce the risk of pressure injuries from occurring.

  • Assessment – the assessment determines the persons risk of developing a pressure injury – some factors which are considered include a persons daily routine, seating position, lying position, BMI, any continence issues, skin type, sensation sex and age.
  • Monitor – monitoring occurs alongside the person, the family, carers and other health care professionals. If there is any change to a person’s seating position, daily routine etc. a reassessment may need to take place
  • Reducing the risk of pressure injuries – this includes education on factors which increase and/or decrease risk factors, providing training to the person or their family/carer or providing advice around suitable products/equipment. Equipment which may help to alleviate these risks include – proper seating, pressure care cushions and mattresses, heel/elbow protectors etc.

If you have a question or concern in relation to pressure care and how it may be affecting you or a someone you care for – you can contact your local OT.

*According to NICE guidelines (National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) 2014 and Pressure Ulcers: Prevention and Management (Clinical Guideline).

Diagram courtesy of Nurse Key.