What is Stop the Pressure Week 2023?
Stop the Pressure Week 2023 is part of an annual campaign dedicated to raising awareness about the prevention, assessment and management of pressure ulcers. The awareness week revolves around Stop the Pressure Day (16th of November), which is the key event of the campaign. The international event was founded by the European Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (EPUAP), a multidisciplinary panel of healthcare professionals, experts, researchers and lecturers in the field. In the UK, Stop the Pressure Week is a collaboration between the NHS, tissue viability organisations and corporations dedicated to supporting frontline healthcare professionals, carers, educators and patients with pressure ulcers.
Throughout the week-long campaign, organisations in the #4nations network (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) will host a range of events to stress the importance of prevention and improving clinical protocols. Events include lectures, webinars, workshops and study days that focus on new developments in pressure ulcer management. These national and international efforts aim to work towards a world without pressure ulcers.
Why is Stop the Pressure Week 2023 still vital?
Stop the Pressure Week 2023 remains as important as when it was first founded. Pressure ulcers are one of the most common and complex conditions to treat in healthcare. Pressure ulcers, particularly Grade 3 and 4 pressure ulcers, can be extremely painful and upsetting for patients. In some cases, they can be slow or non-healing, which can be completely debilitating for patients. Aside from their detrimental impact on the physical and mental wellbeing on patients and their families, they pose a great number of clinical, financial and documentation challenges for healthcare professionals and organisations.
In the UK, around 700,000 people a year are affected by pressure ulcers.  In fact, pressure ulcers are one of the top 10 reported harms in the NHS.  Pressure ulcers not only represent one of the most frequent and challenging wounds treated in clinical settings, but they are also some of the costliest. Figures reveal that pressure ulcers cost the NHS around £3.8m a day and up to £2.4bn every year.  Without widespread improvements in education and the quality of clinical interventions, these figures are predicted to rise sharply over the next few decades due to the UK’s ageing population.
What are the key objectives of Stop the Pressure Week 2023?
Stop the Pressure Week 2023 adopts a far-reaching and holistic approach to pressure ulcer management. Stop the Pressure events focus on a variety of topics, ranging from clinical pathways to the appropriate dressings for pressure ulcers. However, as with all wound care, prevention is the benchmark for effective pressure ulcer management. Pressure ulcers are an avoidable patient harm that can be mitigated through the implementation of effective prevention strategies. With the growing strains on the NHS in mind, the cost of prevention is estimated to be 2.5 x lower than the cost of treatment. 
Although the Purpose T Pressure Ulcer Risk Assessment and aSSKINg framework have been adopted across the NHS to improve pressure ulcer clinical practice, there is no standardised, international pathway for prevention and management. Stop the Pressure Week stresses the need for the formation of multidisciplinary teams around the world to address the growing number of pressure ulcers. The aim is for these teams to work collaboratively to improve the delivery of pressure ulcer services at all levels.
These teams should include members from national legislative bodies, educational institutions, acute and community hospital leadership and domestic carers. Together, they should work towards developing standardised and evidence-based prevention strategies, assessment protocols, grading systems, dressing recommendations, terminology and clinical pathways to minimise variations in treatment and improve patient outcomes.
With an increasingly bigger focus on sustainability in wound care, there will also be an emphasis on how following best practice for pressure ulcers is not only better for patients, but also better for the planet.
What is the theme of the Stop the Pressure Week 2023?
The theme of UK Stop the Pressure Week 2023 is ‘Every Contact Counts.‘ The Society of Tissue Viability (SOTV) explains the theme:
- ‘Every contact with a healthcare professional or carer can help pressure ulcers
- Every contact with a bed, chair or other surface can prevent pressure ulcers
- Every contact with leaders in healthcare can prevent pressure ulcers
- Every contact on traditional media or social media can prevent pressure ulcers.’
What does Contact stand for?
Contact is an acronym developed by the SOTV and the National Wound Care Strategy Programme (NWCSP).
C – Conversation, connect, communicate and care. This stands for having thoughtful conversations about the scale and impact of pressure ulcers on society. Connecting and communicating with the relevant teams and services can help ensure appropriate treatment and better healing outcomes.
O – Observe, options and optimise. This means optimising care to meet the needs of each patient to prevent tissue damage. This includes conducting risk assessments, moving the patient routinely, using alternative pressure mattresses and improving nutrition to reduce the chances of developing a pressure ulcer.
N – Needs, notice and notify. Identifying and reporting the individual needs of each patient as well as notifying other members of the care team of any developments that may require additional attention. These individual needs may relate to visible changes in the patient’s skin, pain and any mobility issues.
T – Teamwork, talking and teaching. Teamwork stands for working collaboratively to reduce the incidence of pressure ulcers. This involves prioritising training as well as sharing skills and expertise among individual staff and teams.
A – Ask, adjust and adapt. This is a critical part of adapting to a more patient-centred system of treatment. It encourages a reciprocal relationship between healthcare professionals and patients, where both parties feel comfortable asking questions that may provide insights on how to improve treatment and healing.
C – Curiosity, challenge and change. This stands for challenging the current approach to pressure ulcer management, which generally prioritises treatment over prevention. This means action is generally taken too late.
T – Take action. This is aimed at improving the delivery of services in the community. It emphasises prevention and more effective reporting on the progress of a wound and appropriate referral to other services, if necessary.
Why should you take part in Stop the Pressure Week 2023?
Pressure ulcers are one of the most preventable wounds, but one of the most difficult to manage. The most important way to reduce the incidence of pressure ulcers is through education and early clinical interventions. These interventions include early identification of at-risk patients, prevention and effective communication among clinical teams. Taking part in Stop the Pressure Week 2023 is a step forward to making pressure ulcers a thing of the past.
- Wood, Julia, et al. Reducing Pressure Ulcers Across Multiple Care Settings Using a Collaborative Approach. BMJ Open Quality 2019; 8: 1
- Ibid: 1
- National Wound Care Strategy Programme: (2023) Pressure Ulcer Recommendations and Clinical Pathway: 2