Why Canada Needs NSWOCs Part 3: Better Outcomes
A System Under Strain
Every year, Canada’s provincial and territorial governments spend more than $250 billion in total on health care (Canadian Institute for Health Information [CIHI], 2018). In the next decade as the country’s population ages, that spending is only going to increase. Longer life expectancies and declining fertility rates are contributing to an overall older demographic (World Health Organization, 2015). Economic models predict that healthcare costs will rise by 1% each year between 2010 and 2036 due to population aging alone (Mackenzie & Rachlis, 2010).
So, how can we achieve a sustainable healthcare system?
Nurses Specialized in Wound, Ostomy, and Continence (NSWOCs) can Help!
Registered Nurses Specialized in Wound, Ostomy and Continence (NSWOCs) can help alleviate the financial strain facing administrators and policymakers through the provision of higher quality care, reduced costs and improved outcomes for patients.
In our previous articles, we focused on how NSWOCs lead to high-quality care and lower which improves outcomes for patients, care providers, and the healthcare industry as a whole. Today, we will be exploring how NSWOCs can contribute to better outcomes for patients.
NSWOCs Improve Outcomes
Getting patients out of acute care faster frees up beds for new cases. Through specialized treatment approaches and prevention strategies, NSWOCs measurably reduce durations of hospital stays and facilitate patient access and flow.
NSWOCs Improve Outcomes by:
preventing ostomy complications
Ostomy surgery alone is a life-changing procedure. But many ostomy patients experience complications that can further affect their quality of life and add to their reliance on the health system.
NSWOCs help prevent such complications through effective preoperative and postoperative rehabilitative care, reducing readmission rates for new ostomy patients (Medley, 2014). NSWOCs can identify signs of peristomal skin problems early so treatment can get underway immediately. They can educate patients on what to look for so they can seek care as soon as symptoms appear. In the case of medical-adhesive related skin injuries, NSWOCs contribute to prevention by helping patients select a pouching system that’s appropriate to their needs, ostomy type and abdominal skin contours (LeBlanc et al. 2019). This also minimizes skin stripping, since patients with a well-fitting pouching system will be less prone to remove it frequently.
Contributing to faster healing and less pain
Wound, ostomy and continence challenges contribute to pain and discomfort. Studies have found that:
When comparing the treatment of chronic wounds by NSWOCs and general staff nurses in home care (Arnold & Weir, 1994). Substantially more wounds were healed (78.5%) when an NSWOC provided the care versus a general staff nurse (36.3%).
When comparing outcomes in home care patients with surgical wounds, pressure ulcers, urinary incontinence, bowel incontinence and urinary tract infections (Bliss et al., 2013). Those assigned to NSWOCs had more severe conditions than patients assigned to other nurses but showed significant improvement in the number of pressure ulcers and surgical wounds and frequency of incontinence.
Westra, Bliss, Savik, Hou, & Borchert (2013) calculated that home care agencies employing NSWOCs are more likely to see improvements in conditions including pressure ulcers (nearly twice as likely) urinary incontinence (40% more likely), lower extremity ulcers and surgical wounds (20% to 40%), and bowel incontinence (14%). It found specifically that the incidence of incontinence in home healthcare agencies with no NSWOC is twice that of those with an NSWOC.
Agencies employing an NSWOC were also more likely to see conditions stabilized, including urinary incontinence (2.3 times more likely), surgical wounds (50%), pressure ulcers (30%), urinary tract infections (20%) and bowel incontinence (16%).
NSWOCs also contribute to better patient outcomes by reducing pain associated with certain conditions. For example, patients with superficial infections or infected chronic leg ulcers experienced significant reductions in pain by taking part in NSWOC-directed leg-functioning conditioning activities (Kelechi, Mueller, Spencer, Rinard, & Loftis, 2014)
For a More Sustainable System
Ultimately, with a tri-specialization in wound, ostomy and continence, NSWOCs are helping address the challenges facing Canada’s healthcare system. Employing NSWOCs is an effective strategy for controlling costs through high-quality, evidence-based care that leads to better outcomes for patients. NSWOCs bring about these benefits as care providers but also as sources of specialized knowledge for interdisciplinary healthcare teams, care consultants to other health professionals, as well as through best practice and protocol development, research and other avenues.
To learn more about the power of NSWOCs, visit the link below!