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What are pressure injuries?

Pressure injuries are caused by prolonged pressure on the skin. It is common for pressure injuries to occur where the skin covers bony areas such as heels, the base of the spine and the hips.

People are more at risk of these injuries if they have reduced mobility and difficulty repositioning themselves independently.  

What are support surfaces?  

Support surfaces comprise a variety of overlays, mattresses, and integrated bed systems used to redistribute pressure, reduce shearing forces, and control heat and humidity.

A support surface allows the patient to have their weight distributed more effectively to reduce the risk of pressure injuries.  

Finding the right mattress

1.Risk assessment – to determine your risk of developing a pressure injury this is usually completed through a standardised assessment where you will be given a score associated with the risk. The risk assessment takes into account skin condition, age, weight, continence ability and diet.  

2.Prevention – Considers what the current sleep system consists of and identifies the current concerns.  

3.What are the precautions and contraindications for the individual such as if they are a falls risk, have temperature regulation concerns or have comorbidities that require attention.

4.How will the mattress be used? This takes into account how the individual is transferred and the time spent in bed, tasks completed in bed such as getting dressed.  

What are the manufacturer’s specifications, including product lifespan, care instructions, coverings and maintenance.

Types of Support Systems or Mattresses

Support surfaces are classified as reactive or active.

Reactive is a constant low-pressure option that can be powered or non-powered. These surfaces mould to the person’s shape to redistribute the body weight over a larger surface area.

  • Air – The air within the mattress is at a constant level and is distributed evenly across the mattress surface. Typically with customisable inflation properties to accommodate for the pressure load. Suitable for people that have high and low-pressure care needs.
  • Low air loss – Is a type of air mattress that allows for immersion and envelopment combined with high airflow. Small holes in the air cells low air to circulate around the body. Usually, this type of mattress has a waterproof, bacteria impermeable, air and moisture permeable coverlet that reduces shear and friction. Suitable for people that have continence concerns
  • High specification Foam – consists of high quality castellated viscoelastic foams that can be customised to create a safe, comfortable, pressure-relieving surface, conforming to the shape of the body and reducing pressure points.
  • Gel – Is a support surface made from gel-filled cells that allow for postural control and is a heat conductor. Suitable for people with poor temperature regulation control.

Active alternating pressure through mechanical means regardless of the pressure load and are usually powered by pumps.

Alternating pressure – Consists of a series of air tubes and work by constantly inflating and deflating these cells to ensure that contact pressures vary where the patient’s weight rests on the mattress, achieving effective pressure redistribution. Suitable for people with very high-pressure care needs and people that have reduced mobility.

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