Helping Caregivers Understand Wound Care

By  VNA of the Treasure Coast


For many caregivers, taking care of a loved one means much more than medication reminders and preparing meals. More arduous tasks such as wound care become part of the responsibilities of the caregiver. In a recent AARP study, more than one-third of caregivers found wound care very challenging and wish they had more training on the subject. The fear of making a mistake and causing infection or pain can be overwhelming and can cause anxiety for caregivers.


If your loved one is recovering from surgery or a hospital stay, it is advisable to ask for in-home care during his or her recovery to relieve the stress and anxiety of the caregiver. However, unless enlisting the help of a private duty agency with twenty-four capabilities, there may be times when the caregiver has to change their loved one’s wound his or herself without the aid of a healthcare professional. Below you will find some general tips and guidelines when it comes to wound care. For specific directions on caring for your loved one’s wound, please consult your physician.


Before changing any wound dressing, be sure that you are working on a clean work surface with sterile instruments and cleansed hands. This will help prevent bacterial infections, impeding the health of the wound. After cleaning the work area, take out any supplies from their packages you might need such as medical tape, gauze, and dressings. Then put on your gloves and proceed to take off the top dressing from the wound.


When removing the top dressing from the wound, you will want to place one hand on the skin and with the other hand, pull the tape off towards the wound. If there is inner packing on the wound, you will want to remove this as well. Ask your physician if special instructions are needed for removing the inner packing. Be sure to put all soiled dressings and gloves in a sealed plastic bag and keep away from children and animals.


When re-packing the wound, be sure to start with a new pair of gloves. If the wound requires inner packing, ask your physician for any special instructions for the inner packing. For the outer dressing, take the gauze by the corners and place over the wound. Use four strips of tape to seal each edge of the gauze.


As a caregiver, you will need to also be aware of any warning signs for infections or complications. It is important to call your doctor if your loved one is experiencing a temperature, chills, poor-smelling fluids or drainage from the wound, swelling or redness around the wound, and increased pain around the wound area.



VNA provides compassionate, innovative care of the highest quality, setting the standard for patients and caregivers needing home health, hospice, and community health services.