Nova Scotia

Number of N.S. nursing home residents with bedsores is dropping

The number of nursing home residents with bedsores is dropping in Nova Scotia after an outcry last year over two deaths.

Department of Health says better equipment, wound care resulted in 13.5% decline since last year

Chris Baert-Wilson of the Red Cross shows Nova Scotia Health Minister Randy Delorey one of the 500 special air mattresses the province bought to help long-term care patients with bedsores. (Michael Gorman/CBC)

The number of nursing home residents with bedsores is dropping in Nova Scotia.

The Department of Health and Wellness has started posting the numbers online as a result of an outcry last year over at least two deaths connected to bedsores.

Paula Langille, the director of liaison and service support in the department's continuing-care division, said there were 13.5 per cent fewer long-term care residents with bedsores in June compared with the previous year.

"We're very pleased with what has happened," she said. "It's a really good news story of how we've been able to collaboratively come together to improve the quality of care in long-term care."

New data posted online by the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness shows a breakdown by zone of the number of nursing home residents with bedsores. (Dave Irish/CBC)

The data posted online includes all bedsores — also known as pressure injuries — except for stage 1 bedsores.

Langille said that's because stage 1 bedsores are the simplest ones and are easily reversible.

In addition, the Canadian Institute for Health Information excludes stage 1 bedsores when reporting national numbers, she said.

The new Nova Scotia numbers show there were 327 nursing home residents with stage 2 to 4 bedsores in June 2018.

This June there were 284, which is about 13.5 per cent lower.

'Relatively huge drop'

"That's a relatively huge drop in a short period of time," said Langille.

Care homes across the province have been working with the department over the last year to get better equipment and wound-care procedures, she said.

"We also have to understand that pressure injuries are not uncommon in this environment, especially when you have seniors with reduced mobility," Langille said.

The Eastern zone, which includes all of Cape Breton, has the highest percentage of long-term care residents with bedsores compared with the other zones.

Langille said she didn't have any information on why that was the case.

"I would say we are concerned with any of them," she said.

"We want to definitely see more improvement on that and it is a quality measure that we are going to hold our service providers accountable for."

About the Author

Tom Ayers

Reporter/Editor

Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for more than 30 years. He has spent the last 15 years covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at tom.ayers@cbc.ca.

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