by CANHR California advocates for nursing home reform
What are safe transfers?

Bedsores occur when a person is forced to spend most of his time lying in bed because of illness, paralysis or coma. Prolonged pressure on specific parts of the body causes skin to become reddened, then ulcerated. Preventing bedsores is critical, because treating a bedsore is a difficult and can require surgery.

Here are some helpful tips in preventing this from happening:

1. Turn and reposition your client/loved one at least once every two hours. Prolonged pressure to the skin causes bedsores. Place a pillow between their knees when their legs are pressed together.

2. Inspect the parts of the body where bedsores are most apt to occur: the heels, sacrum, knees, ears, shoulders and hips. Any sign of redness should be cause for concern. Keep weight off of any reddened spots, until all signs of redness are gone.

3. Keep the head of the bed flat, as much as possible. Raising the head causes the body to slump down deeper into the bed, which increases shearing force on the skin.

4. Use pressure reducing aids in a bed or wheelchair. Mattresses and seat cushions containing sheepskin, foam, gel or air reduce pressure on the skin.

5. Clean skin as soon as it becomes moist from perspiration, excrement or wound drainage. Dampness that is allowed to linger on the skin increases the chance of breakdown.

6. Change sheets frequently. Choose sheets that are wrinkle-free and softened.

7. Massage the skin two to three times a day to increase circulation. Apply lotion liberally. Avoid massaging bony prominences.

8. Maintain adequate hydration. For optimal skin health, the body needs at least eight glasses of water a day.