Zero pressure thanks to innovative heel wedge at North Manchester General Hospital

heel wedges web
Zero pressure thanks to innovative heel wedge at North Manchester General Hospital
26 August 2016

A NEW bespoke device to stop pressure ulcers from developing on patients’ heels has been devised by staff at Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust.

Jackie Greenhalgh, ward manager on I5 orthopaedic ward at North Manchester General Hospital came up with the idea of a new wedge which would keep patient’s heels off their mattress so that there is zero pressure on their skin, which stops pressure ulcers from developing.

She attended a pressure ulcer training day organised by the Trust’s tissue viability team and together with their help approached Karomed, the company which supplies the Trust’s pressure reducing/relieving equipment, about her idea for an offloading wedge for heels.

After discussions with Karomed, a new wedge was developed which was trialled on the orthopaedic ward at North Manchester General Hospital.

The new wedge is made from the same high specification foam as the pressure relieving mattresses used on the wards and meets all health and safety specifications, along with adhering to infection prevention policy.  It has a wipe clean surface as it is used for multiple patients and has a zip covering so that the foam can be checked for any damage endured throughout its use.

Jackie said: “I am delighted with the new wedge which the tissue viability team helped me to develop with Karomed.  Previously we had tried numerous devices to offload patient’s heels from the beds, but no one device was suitable for all our patients. 

“A lot of the patients on my ward are vulnerable and are at high risk of pressure damage as they have sustained a fracture to their hip.  Previously they would have had to wear a foam boot to off load their heels from the bed and for some patients this was problematic as it needs to be strapped around their ankle and was not suitable for when they were trying to get out of bed.  The new wedge however is placed under the sheet on the patient’s bed so that it offloads the heels from the mattress.

“The new wedge has been given the thumbs up by our patients who have said how comfortable it is, with the biggest bonus that it has maintained zero pressure on their heels.  As the wedge has no straps or restrictions on it, it can also be used for patients with dementia.”

Judy Harker, nurse consultant, tissue viability at Pennine Acute Trust, said: “Just over 50% of our hospital-acquired pressure ulcers occur on patients’ heels so this work fits perfectly with our quality improvement strategy.  It is also fantastic to see frontline clinicians engaging with industry to improve outcomes for our patients.”

Work is now under way to implement the use of the wedge in other wards and departments within the organisation including The Royal Oldham Hospital, Rochdale Infirmary and Fairfield General Hospital in Bury.

Pictured: Jackie Greenhalgh, ward manager on I5 ward at North Manchester General Hospital with the new wedge.