How to Make Staff Education Fun with a Wound Care Carnival

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By Cheryl Carver, LPN, WCC, CWCA, DAPWCA, FACCWS

My approach to wound care education with patients, providers, and nursing staff the last 20+ years has always been to make learning fun while emphasizing that wounds are a serious topic. My strong passion drives me to motivate anyone and everyone who wants to learn. If they don’t want to learn, then I’ll figure out the best way to motivate them! Everyone learns differently; however, hands-on training with added fun usually wins. Education should be ongoing and engaging, and it should create fun ways to experience more of those “aha” moments. We want to impact that long-term memory storage! Every care setting has variances, but my blog will provide you with some ideas that you can alter to fit your needs.

Skill Competency Strategies

When it comes time to prepare for annual skill competencies, it is wound care carnival time! I have shared a few ideas that I have used through the years to motivate nursing staff. The skills carnival topics I have used encompass the at-risk patient, pressure injury staging, skin tears, wound bed preparation, and nutrition. As an educator, I am glad to provide the staff with some wound care education fun, but most importantly, I want them to remember what they learned and help them complete their skill competency checklist.

First Steps in Organizing and Creating a Wound Care Education Carnival Event

I begin by forming a team to help organize the wound care carnival. Bring in the participation of motivated licensed nursing staff, therapists, nursing assistants, activities department, and administration. There are opportunities to invite wound care product vendors as well. Together we brainstorm and discuss the skill competencies checklist and decide who will oversee which booths.

In addition to planning wound care education, we incorporate some thematic elements to set the stage for the wound care carnival:

  • Rent a popcorn machine and/or cotton candy machine.
  • Play carnival music to set the mood.
  • Decorate with vibrant colored decorations, such as balloons.
  • Have administration staff members dress up as a clown, mime, or circus leader.
  • Reward employees with various prizes.

Wound Care Carnival Game Ideas

Wound Care Hopscotch Use sidewalk chalk to draw a hopscotch pattern on the sidewalk. Have each player use a stone or bottle cap. Each square has a different wound care topic and trivia questions for the staff member to answer.

Treasure Hunt Create your list of items wound-related items, clues, and hide the items. First one to complete all the clues and grab the final object wins a gift.

Treatment Tic Tac Toe Use a whiteboard and markers to mark the “x” and “o”. Read wound care scenarios to help staff make their move and answer it.

Wound Bingo Use bingo cards like a regular bingo game.

Carnival Booth Station Ideas

Booth One: Penny Pear
Using a pear, you can teach tissue level of destruction.

  • Stage 1 – This is a pear that is too ripe. Non-blanchable erythema.
  • Stage 2 – Remove the pear skin, and also talk about serous-filled blisters.
  • Stage 3 – Take a bite out of the pear to show full-thickness wounds.
  • Stage 4 – Pressure injury – Eat the pear to the core, stage 4. The core simulates tissue damage extending to exposed structures.
  • Unstageable – Caramel-covered pear represents devitalized tissue: slough or eschar. Once the caramel is gone, you can stage the wound.
  • Deep tissue pressure injury – Bruised pear, and also talk about blood-filled blister.

Booth Two: Rumple Wrinkle-Skin
To demonstrate friction and shear, you can use a sheet of tissue paper. Have the staff participants rub the piece of tissue paper while leaning against the wall pushing back and forth. The tissue paper will crinkle. Discuss how to prevent this from happening and introduce the appropriate use of offloading devices or positioning.

Booth Three: Gabby Grapefruit
Cut grapefruits in half to demonstrate wound cleansing, measurement, and application of various dressings, including negative pressure wound therapy.

Booth Four: Willy Watermelon
Wound assessment can be done with a watermelon. The seeds are necrotic tissue. Create tunnels to measure, and damage the watermelon rind to demonstrate periwound damage.

Booth Five: Betty Barrier
Use a punch bowl and add red food coloring. Have nursing staff apply a thin layer of barrier cream or petroleum to the top of their hands. Have participates put both hands in the punch bowl for 2 minutes. This demonstration will show the importance of using barrier products in patients with incontinence.

Booth Six: Pablo Pressure
Have staff participants sit on a thin pillow with a firm ball, not shifting their weight for 10 minutes, or try and persuade them to walk barefoot on a tub of LEGO® toy building blocks.

Booth Seven: Peter Plum
Have staff remove silk tape from an over-ripe plum, demonstrating how easy skin can tear.

Booth Eight: Nutrition Nelly
Create a display of foods representing the essential micronutrients and macronutrients needed in prevention and healing of wounds.

Booth Nine: Biofilm Bill
Use a frosted glass cutting board. Draw a wound outline, and then apply a thin layer of petrolatum. Then demonstrate wound hygiene: wound cleansing and surrounding skin of a wound with biofilm. The petrolatum is hard to remove without leaving a residue, representing complex biofilms.

Booth Ten: Etiology Ed
Create a bean bag toss with wound etiologies on the front of small buckets. Describe characteristics of wound types for staff members to throw the bean bag in the appropriate bucket (pressure, venous, arterial, diabetic).

Hosting a wound care education carnival will help engage nursing staff in preparation for annual skill competencies, and reinforce knowledge in the fundamentals of wound care.

Resources
National Pressure Injury Advisory Panel. Prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers/injuries: clinical practice guideline. The International Guideline. 2019.

Editor's Note: This blog was originally published in February of 2015. It was revised and republished in June of 2021.

About the Author
Cheryl Carver is an independent wound educator and consultant. Carver's experience includes over a decade of hospital wound care and hyperbaric medicine. Carver single-handedly developed a comprehensive educational training manual for onboarding physicians and is the star of disease-specific educational video sessions accessible to employee providers and colleagues. Carver educates onboarding providers, in addition to bedside nurses in the numerous nursing homes across the country. Carver serves as a wound care certification committee member for the National Alliance of Wound Care and Ostomy, and is a board member of the Undersea Hyperbaric Medical Society Mid-West Chapter.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author, and do not represent the views of WoundSource, Kestrel Health Information, Inc., its affiliates, or subsidiary companies.

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