The Power of Music: Preventing Bedsores in Assisted Living, Nursing Home Residents

For many, music is therapeutic. But for staff and residents at ten Signature HealthCare facilities in Kentucky, it carries a deeper purpose: A trigger to get moving! The University of Cincinnati College of Nursing has commissioned a year-long research study using music to signal staff that it’s time to reposition residents in an effort to reduce and prevent bedsores, according to a recent report on Music reminds staff and residents it's time to move

Bedsores, also known as pressure sores or pressure ulcers, are a common problem in nursing homes and even in some assisted living facilities. Residents who aren’t independently mobile (i.e., wheelchair or bed-bound) can develop bedsores from constant resting pressure on one area of the body due to lying or sitting in the same position for long periods of time. Industry standards say that residents should be repositioned every two hours, but it’s a task that can be easily missed by staff.

Bedsores are extremely painful and often take a long time to heal. Tracey Yap, assistant professor and program coordinator for the occupational health nursing program at the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing, estimates that it can cost up to $50,000 to effectively treat and cure a single bedsore. A reduction in the number and/or severity of bedsores can have a significant impact on the bottom line, says Yap.

Assisted living residents are typically not bed-ridden because regulations in most states require staff to be able to remove all residents successfully in a short amount of time in the event of a fire. Georgia, for example, has pending legislation that would actually require residents to be able to evacuate the facility without assistance in case of fire or other disaster in order to be assisted-living eligible. Added independence doesn’t eliminate the potential for bedsores, although those with mobility dependence are more likely to develop them.

Even for the most mobile residents, bedsores are a possibility. In the ten participating facilities, music plays for about a minute every two hours throughout the 12-hour daylight period. Nurses reposition immobile residents at that time, and all staff get involved by encouraging independent residents to move, by inviting them on a short walk or offering a reminder to get active. The study concludes on April 30, 2011, and it’s too early to draw significant conclusions. That said, Pam Larimore-Skinner, Director of Nursing at Signature HealthCare of Trimble County in Bedford, Kentucky, reports that none of the 50 current residents in her facility have bedsores acquired in the facility.

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