Published Wednesday 10 Jun 2020

A new way of working ensured that Aged Residential Care (ARC) residents have continued to receive safe and quality wound care during COVID-19.

Specialist wound care nurses Alice Bourke (Kapiti), Fiona Guthrie (Kenepuru) Natalie Scott (Wound charge nurse manager) Claire Todd (Kenepuru), Sharleen Dockerty (Kapiti), and Elizabeth Frost (Wellington).

Prior to COVID-19, the Specialist Wound Nurse team visited ARC facilities to treat and advise on complex non-healing wounds such as leg ulcers, diabetic foot ulcers, and pressure injuries. This stopped once the country moved into the alert level 4 lockdown.

“Under the lockdown we could no longer visit ARC facilities in person to consult and provide expert wound advice, but the nurses and residents still needed wound care support,” said community wound clinical nurse specialist Natalie Scott.

“Being able to provide this service is important for the ARC facility nurses to provide best practice, and important to residents’ health and wellbeing. Providing virtual clinics enabled continuity of care, and we contacted ARC facilities to assure them we would continue to provide our service.”

Using the virtual clinic involves a facility’s registered nurse (RN) referring a resident to the service and providing photographs of the resident’s wound. The wound care nurse and RN then clinically assess and review the case and photos by phone.

“We discuss the wound’s status with the RN, collaborate on a care plan, and then follow up by phone over the following weeks to check the resident’s progress. This enables us to support ARC nurses, and provide expert advice despite alert level restrictions.

“ARC nurses and residents have appreciated this ongoing support immensely, residents’ families have also been pleased to have wound care specialists involved in their loved ones’ care, and we’ve been able to ensure that people have not been disadvantaged during this time.”

The virtual clinic has enabled Specialist Wound Nurse team’s six specialist nurses to support more than 12 facilities in complex wound management over past six weeks.

While in-person visits to ARC facilities will resume if neede3d when ARC facilities relax visitation rules, the virtual clinics will continue providing virtual support for residents who have straightforward wounds and are improving.

Media contact: Chas Te Runa – 027 230 9571