5 Components of Holistic Wound Assessment

Not all caregivers are healthcare professionals. You as a caregiver to an elderly parent or a spouse may not have the know-how required to access a bodily wound. But as a caregiver, you must at least identify pain, malodor; and judge the severity of the wound. An elderly person may fail to judge the severity of a wound present on their body by themselves— a semi-professional or holistic assessment may be needed. This article is all about the components of holistic wound assessment. 

What is a holistic wound assessment?

Holistic wound assessment involves a caregiver or a nurse going out on a limb to help the person suffering from a wound or a physical injury. It involves a caregiver stepping into the shoes of the sufferer so they can understand what the sufferer is going through. Further, caregivers are also required to understand the process of wound healing so they can make better decisions related to the usage of dressings or ointments. The next section offers you a better understanding of this concept.  

5 components of holistic wound assessment

Accessing a wound requires a caregiver to communicate with the sufferer clearly and concisely. Caregivers must feel free to sit close to the patient and examine the wound with a medical pen torch, you can use your smartphone torch if you don’t have a penlight available. Note down the observations on a piece of paper. You can share them with a certified medical professional (a doctor or a nurse).

Here are the points you must focus on when accessing a wound:

#1 How old is the wound?

It is not uncommon for an elderly person to have hidden or unnoticed wounds on their body. Certain regions of the body can have lacerations, ulcers, infections, burns, or a deep cut that you (the caregiver) don’t know about. 

If you come across a wound on an elderly person’s body, try to find out its age. If it appears infected or there’s visible discoloration around the wound, chances are that it is an old wound. It can also be something chronic. 

Chronic wounds don’t heal quickly, hence I would suggest caregivers take the patient to a doctor for a thorough examination. 

Application of topical ointments or herbal home-based remedies can lead to aggravation of a chronic wound. Although do not hesitate to clean it with an antiseptic before the doctor’s visit. 

#2 Is the patient sensitive or allergic to wound dressings?

Informal caregivers to a parent, spouse, or sibling are likely to know if their loved one has allergies or sensitivities to wound dressings. In such a situation you do not have to worry about using bandages (or other wound dressing equipment) to patch up the wound.

On the flip side, things can get a bit tricky if you are caring for someone you met recently. Maybe you are a part-time caregiver trying to make money on the side. In such a situation, you must consult a family member of the patient before using a wound dressing. 

#3 Has the patient been eating well recently?

A low-calorie intake can lower the levels of serum protein in the blood. The blood contains protein groups (albumin and globulin) that are responsible for faster wound healing. Low-calorie intake can result in low serum levels, which in turn can hinder the process of wound healing. 

If you are caring for a person with wounds, make sure to check if they are eating well. In fact, up to their calorie intake until the wound is completely healed. Needless to mention, you must consult a physician if the person you are caring for has health conditions such as diabetes. 

Upping the calorie intake in otherwise healthy individuals will facilitate optimal wound healing. Studies indicate that people with skin ulcers often fail to consume sufficient amounts of calories, which results in malnutrition. In such a situation, you can offer the patient semi-solid bland-tasting food such as rice, banana, Korean noodles, soup, etc.

#4 Does the patient smoke?

Better lung health is one of the key components of holistic wound assessment. According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), smoking just one cigarette a day can slow down the wound healing process. 

Make sure to check whether the person you are caring for smokes or not. Your loved one may have recently started smoking. Even one cigarette a day can be harmful to someone trying to nurse a wound. Not only that but the situation can get challenging for those with chronic pain or injury. 

According to WHO, cigarettes contain harmful substances such as nicotine and carbon monoxide. Smoking can reduce oxygen levels in the blood which can hinder your body’s ability to heal itself. It can also weaken immune systems making the patient vulnerable to infections. 

#5 Is the patient under mental distress?

Elderly people often keep their troubles to themselves. Your loved one may not want to bother you with their bodily problems. Maybe the wound they suffered was a minor cut in the beginning and they thought why bother you?

This is more likely to occur if the patient is living alone or spending most of their time in isolation. Loneliness can alter one’s mental state. It can easily make the patient ignorant about their health and well-being. 

If your loved one has suffered a wound and they are in a state of solitude, make sure to spend more time with them. Depending on the severity of the wound, you can nurse it yourself or consult a physician. 


Instead of focusing solely on wound healing, caregivers must consider secondary factors that might contribute to delayed wound healing. You must remember the components of holistic wound assessment discussed in this article. Most often it is a lifestyle-related issue or miscommunication between the patient and the caregiver that hinders the process of wound healing.

One Comment

  1. My name is Folole Bailey from Crestview Florida USA ..My sister who lives in Hamilton New Zealand has suffered from non healing ulcerations on both lower extremities for over 10 years now…She has had home Health nurses come to the her home for dressing changes etc but with about the same treatment plan that to me hasn’t worked….My brother (Lives in Auckland) have suggested Hyperbaric treatment.Unfortunately my brother in law shot that idea down..A cousin of ours who lives in Weliington who had something similar mentioned your name and the fact he his legs have healed and is back to his daily exercise routines..Please let me know if there is something you can offer towards the care for my sister,,BTW she is 73 years old

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