A Nursing Perspective
Color Coding Stops Confusion
From a personal perspective, both as a care giver and a patient, true sheepskins have proven invaluable. Confusion exists between genuine and imitation products. Imitation products are often misleadingly called sheepskins. As a result, definite identification is imperative.
Prevention of bed sores is essential for the well being and comfort of the ill or the incapacitated.
Various methods of assessment can be applied to ascertain the risk of pressure sore development, eg. Norton Scale, Waterlow Scale and/or visual assessment. These take into consideration age, continence, skin type, hydration, mobility and associated medical conditions.
The placement of sheepskins beneath pressure points can assist in the prevention of friction, together with the additional comfort of the end user. The property of increased urine resistance is a major advantage although, unfortunately, will not alter the need for instant laundering.
Generally a sheepskin can be used in the care of a patient for a considerable time due to the resilience of natural wool fibres. This is a major difference between a true sheepskin and synthetic fibre.
In recent years quality sheepskins have been expensive and scarce. Laundering caused serious consternation as skins had to be bagged, labeled and hand delivered to the laundry for a 'special' wash. Soiled skins should be laundered as soon as possible.
It is essential that the skins are washed separately. Therefore the blue and green skins must be separated and placed in a separate bag or bin for delivery to laundry. Where a number of skins are to be sent for washing, a health care facility or laundry should provide separate individually colored bins.
In the past, problems also arose if deterioration or shrinkage of the skin occurred when it was inadvertently subjected to a high temperature and/or inappropriate wash cycle.
Establishing an Australian Standard for medical sheepskins, which allows a higher temperature washing and drying cycle (Hitemp) will ensure an outstanding product.
Color coding of the skins, to designate whether regular (blue) or high temperature (green) wash cycles are required, will be a tremendous advantage to the user, the caregiver and the laundry.
The change from the yellow and pink of the past, to blue and green will be seen as a step into the future. Identification by color for wash cycles is important and essential. The patient may even see them as more restful.
In conclusion, I compliment everyone who diligently researched and developed an Australian product which not only conforms to the Australian Standard but will bring quality sheepskins back to health care and into the future. Well done!!
Report submitted by
Federation of Sterilizing Research and Advisory Councils of Australia Inc (FSRACA)