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Don’t forget to document…

‘How can I cook my dinner?!’ 

‘How can I charge my phone?!’ 

‘How can I watch tv?!’

The above are things we have all said when there is a power cut. For a moment let’s think about what happens when a power cut happens in a nursing and care home. I can assure you these phrases will not cross a carer’s mind when the power goes off!

One of their initial thoughts is to ensure their patients and residents are not laying on deflated air mattresses and obtaining pressure damage with every passing minute the power is off.

A nursing home is unlikely to have a backup generator, so when the power is out, it’s out. This could go on for hours (or even days in the cases of extreme weather like Storms Malik and Carrie) and the damage that can be caused to a resident in that time can be irreversible and even lead to death.

Power cuts are unavoidable, but pressure prevention isn’t! When a power cut occurs, make sure you are doing everything possible to ensure your residents are not laying on their bed frames due to a deflated alternating air mattress. If they are, try and get them off the bed frame surface as soon as possible and onto something to avoid any pressure damage. 

Residents may have developed progressive pressure damage because their usual levels of care have been compromised by a power cut. It is very important to document…yes, document this happening. It might come and go, cause a lot of disruption and trouble at the time meaning you don’t remember to document the power failure in a patient/resident’s plan of care.

In one incident, a short time passed by after the power cut and a resident quickly developed two black necrotic pressure ulcers on the sacrum which ultimately lead to their death. Is this down to neglect? Or is it down to the fact there was a power cut and you did everything to prevent a pressure ulcer from forming…but failed to document the power cut? 

In a Coroner’s Court, if the power cut wasn’t documented, did it even happen?