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Healing Diabetic Wounds with Attentive Home Care

Visiting Nurse Service of New York RN and her diabetes patientA VNSNY home care nurse since 2006, Daisy* sees as many as 10 patients a day, providing treatment that can range from caring for wounds to administering injections to catheterizations. She recently cared for Peter*, an elderly widower with diabetes who lives by himself. “My medical problem was an open wound on the bottom of my big toe,” says Peter. “Frequently, such wounds do not heal and in fact become infected.”

Peter’s podiatrist had informed him that his wound could lead to complications, and that it needed to be cared for and monitored. That’s where Daisy came in.

Care Starts with Compassion

At her first visit, Daisy determined the treatment the wound would require, and that it could take considerable time to heal. She confirmed her assessment with Peter’s podiatrist and by sending photographs to the VNSNY Wound Consultant.

Daisy also made a point of getting to know Peter in their first meeting, learning right away that he values his independence and self-sufficiency. This compassionate approach is an important component of the care she provides. “You need to know your patient’s state of mind, temperament, and emotional needs,” she says. “Then you can work together as a team to meet their medical needs.”

Daisy saw that Peter was a little apprehensive about the wound, but noted that what he wanted from her was not hand-holding but straightforward, professional care and continuous updates about progress. “Daisy’s care was compassionate, professional, understanding, efficient—and very effective,” says Peter. “It was reassuring to know that she was monitoring the healing process very carefully.”

Effective Care is a Team Effort

“For wound care, it’s important that the nurse, the doctor—in this case, a podiatrist—wound consultant, and the patient all work together to agree on a treatment plan and stick to it,” says Daisy. “When I meet a patient, I tell them it’s a team effort—I need your help to meet the common goal, which in Peter’s case was to help the wound heal completely, without infection or complications, so he could get back with his normal routine. Part of involving Peter was asking him to give me a report on the dressing and draining of the wound between visits. This approach helps make the patients feel like they are contributing to the healing process.”

Communication That Leads to Healing

Daisy also makes it a point to observe her patients closely and stay on top of things. “If a treatment isn’t working, I’ll suggest something else and let the doctor and patient know,” she says. “A big key is communication—on all sides—so everybody knows what’s going on and what to expect.” Peter echoes the importance of communication, saying, “Daisy always explained what she was doing, and stressed the importance of foot care and circulation. If I had questions she couldn’t answer right away, she would look into it and get back to me with the information.”

Peter found Daisy to be very kind and attentive and pleasant, and Daisy says that she is careful to always maintain a positive attitude. “With a slow-healing wound like Peter’s, sometimes it’s mind over matter. The nurse needs to be upbeat and optimistic, so the patient feels if they stay the course and follow instructions, they will get better.”

“While Daisy was focused on treating the wound, we also had nice conversations, talking about ourselves, and caught up from visit to visit.” After three months, Peter’s team agreed that his wound was healed. Seeing Peter out and walking in his neighborhood a short while later assured Daisy that he was back to his old routine. “That made me feel great,” she said. “I try every day to make a difference in my patients’ lives.”

Peter has had many dealings with VNSNY, including hospice care provided for his late wife. “I think the organization does wonderful work for people who are homebound and need medical assistance,” he says. “The nurses are always very professional and pleasant; they take their job seriously. I’m very pleased with the experience I’ve had with VNSNY. And that includes Daisy, who is upholding their high standards.”

* Names have been changed for privacy.