How to dress a wound on a senior patient

nurse with first aid kit

The elderly can be particularly vulnerable to wounds caused by falling over, bedsores, or skin tears.

Whilst minor wounds may heal quickly on someone young and healthy, they can cause further complications in the elderly unless treated with great care.

Many elderly people are frail and suffer from underlying health issues that could compromise their immune system or make them more susceptible to infection.

If you care for the elderly, then ensuring that you have basic first aid skills could potentially be lifesaving.

Dressing a wound is one of the most important first aid skills there is to learn.

It doesn’t matter how big or how small a wound is, the technique remains the same. Once you’ve learnt the basic steps for dressing a wound, you’ll be able to act confidently when faced with a cut, scratch, sore, or laceration that needs dressing.

The most important thing to remember is that the wound needs to be kept as clean as possible to avoid infection.

This is particularly important when dressing a wound on a senior patient who may be frail or have a weakened immune system.

How to dress a wound in six simple steps

Let’s find out how to dress a wound in six simple steps

  1. Wash hands/put on PPE if available

Cleanliness is key when caring for wounds, so always wash your hands to begin. If available, you should also put on personal protective equipment (PPE) before dealing with someone else’s wound as it is possible to pick up infectious diseases from blood.

  1. Assess the wound

Next, you should assess the severity of the wound. If the wound is bleeding heavily or there is a deep puncture wound, then you should apply pressure to try to stop the bleeding and call for an ambulance.

  1. Apply pressure

If the wound is not bleeding too heavily but is still bleeding, then you should apply pressure using a clean cloth or gauze pad until the bleeding subsides.

  1. Clean the wound

Before any dressing can be applied, the wound will need to be thoroughly cleaned to reduce the risk of infection. Clean the wound with running water and use tweezers to remove any dirt or debris that may have gotten into it. Use a very mild soap to wash the skin surrounding the wound.

  1. Dry

Gently pat the wound dry with a clean and dry cloth.

  1. Dress the wound

Whether you apply a dressing to the wound, and if you do, what kind of dressing you apply, depends on the nature of the wound and how likely it is to get dirty. If the wound is going to touch clothing or is in a location on the body where it is likely to get dirty, then it is best to cover it. If the wound is not too deep and can easily be kept dry and clean, then it may heal quicker if it is left uncovered.

  1. If you do choose to dress the wound, use a clean bandage, sterile pad, gauze, or medical tape to do so and be careful not to touch the area of the dressing that covers the wound, or you risk contaminating it.

Learn Emergency First Aid with CBAT

Here at Care Business Associate Training (CBAT), we run a popular QA Level 3 Award in Emergency First Aid at Work. Our one day course will equip you with confidence in performing basic first aid, including dressing wounds.

For more information or to book your place on the course, speak to a member of our team by calling 01772 816 922 or emailing