West Norfolk patient Monica is the first recruit in chronic wound study

West Norfolk patient Monica is the first recruit in chronic wound study
Community Research Nurse Laura Towers with Monica

An 87-year-old former nurse from West Norfolk is the first patient in the UK to be recruited to a study into the effectiveness of wound dressings.

Monica, 87, was an NHS nurse for over forty years and had been fit and well her entire life, before developing health issues in recent years.

She suffered with swollen legs due to two leaky heart valves, which eventually developed into a leg ulcer that appeared just before the COVID pandemic in 2020.

Leg ulcers are long-lasting wounds that take more than two weeks to heal, although in a very small number of people, they never heal. It is estimated that around 1 in 50 people over the age of 80 have one.

Unfortunately, Monica’s leg ulcer continued to progress, and she spent an entire year on antibiotics after a bout of sepsis. This was an awful time for her, due to the excruciating agony of dressing changes and the bad smell coming from the wound.

In February 2023, while Monica was receiving care from the Community Nursing Team at Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust (NCH&C), she was invited to join the BISIL study, which had just opened.

The BISIL study is comparing the clinical and cost effectiveness of Biatain® Silicone dressings with other commonly used wound care products for chronic wounds.

Monica said:

“They explained it all to me and I said yes, I will happily agree to that. I had no fears whatsoever and it was a positive experience all round.”

Monica became the very first person to be recruited to the study, which is supported in the UK by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).

She had weekly study visits over a period of four weeks from Laura Towers, a Community Research Nurse who is leading the study at NCH&C as Principal Investigator. Laura completed the study assessments alongside the Tissue Viability Nurse who carried out the wound care and dressing changes.

Monica reveals that she is starting to see an improvement and the wound is now half the size it was before.

She is very happy to have been involved in the study and, recognising the importance of research, said:

“How are things going to progress if people did not take part in these trials? People need to volunteer for studies to progress research.

“I would willingly do it again because I had no problems at all. It was very pleasant to meet the research team, which was quite stimulating for me.”

Laura, who is the Principal Investigator for two leg ulcer studies at NCH&C, reflects on her role in the study:

“It was really exciting to be the very first site to recruit a participant to this study and it was my first study as a Principal Investigator. I want to thank the Clinical Team for their support with identifying the first participant.”

Professor Jeremy Turner, Clinical Director at the NIHR Clinical Research Network East of England, said:

“We are extremely grateful to the people in the East of England who continue to participate in research to help find the best treatments to improve patients’ quality of life. Thank you for your vital participation and your role in progressing vital research.”

The BISIL study is funded by Coloplast A/S (Denmark) and aims to recruit 100 adults with a venous leg ulcer or diabetic foot ulcer, no deeper than 2cm. The study is a randomised controlled trial where half of the participants will use Biatain® Silicone and half will use the comparator for a duration of four weeks.

If you would like to find out more about NIHR research and how you can take part, visit www.bepartofresearch.uk.

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