Why it is vital to #endPJparalysis and get patients out of the gown!

 In endPJparalysis, Hospital life

It is no secret that the hospital gown is horribly undignified. But research now shows that the real cost of putting patients into a glorified ‘sheet’ and thereby robbing them of their identity, confidence and independence, is far more serious than just a bared bottom! Indeed, data shows that patients’ mental and physical health deteriorates as a result of wearing the gown and that sparing their blushes is therefore way more important than one might think!

The gown’s days are numbered! As too is the phenomenon of patients wearing pyjamas all day long. Right across the UK, NHS nurses are joining the #endPJparalysis and pledging to help patients get up, dressed and moving!

At INGA Wellbeing, where getting patients into real clothes is our sole purpose, we wanted to gauge the impact that the unisex, one-size-fits-all gown has on patients and the results of our opinion poll are clear – patients walk and socialise less when wearing the gown. Indeed, our research conducted by YouGov revealed that over half (53%) of the 2,039 individuals questioned said they would be uncomfortable walking around the hospital in a gown; almost two thirds (64%) felt uncomfortable going outside to get some fresh air in a gown; and almost as many (62%) felt uncomfortable during visits from friends and family when dressed in the gown.

This came as no surprise to us as we have had first-hand experience of the de-humanising and isolating impact of inadequate clothing during medical treatment. Sadly, I watched my mother lose mobility shockingly quickly when she confined herself to her bed because of embarrassment about the gown during her cancer treatment and my co-founder Nikla remembers coming out of hospital after just four days very weak and wobbly.

The survey findings are, however, significant as they underline the premise of the #endPJparalysis campaign: that what patients wear during medical treatment impacts how they behave.  In order therefore to reduce patient time spent in bed and the resulting infection risk, muscle loss and increased falls, patients need to get out of the gown and traditional pyjamas, and instead pack their bags with day clothes. Ideally, these clothes should not be too tight, front-opening and comfortable. Even better if they are actually designed to be worn with medical devices!

Since too much bedrest has been shown to lead to additional health problems it is wonderful that England’s chief nursing officer wants one million patients to get up, dressed and moving in the 70 days from 17th April in the lead up to the 70th anniversary of the founding of the National Health Service.  However, just asking patients to bring in their home clothes will not always solve the problem as high-street brands are not adapted to the realities of IV lines, drains and monitors and already-stretched nursing teams will need to spend a great deal of time helping patients to dress and undress. Clothing such as ours, that works in a clinical setting, will ensure that this campaign succeeds and brings about real health improvements for patients – but more importantly it will help people feel better, be more comfortable and dignified.

We were particularly delighted by the comments that #endPJparalysis founder Professor Brian Dolan made about our clothing range: “Being stuck in PJs or a gown leads to patients adopting the sick role more readily which we know is not good for their psychological wellbeing.  Having clothing that is comfortable, addresses clinical requirements of drains, drips etc is what INGA Wellbeing offers and is a great solution that stops patients being a mosaic of detachable clinical conditions and humanises them again”.

While buying special clothing for an overnight or very short hospitalisation is not necessary with nursing staff on hand to help patients to dress, for those who are hospitalised for longer, or repeatedly, it can be liberating and very important to be able to dress themselves, despite medical devices, and therefore decide when they shower or go to bed. Looking and feeling like themselves, walking in the corridors, getting fresh air and enjoying visits by friends and family is all made more possible with clothing that looks completely normal but works in a medical setting.

We are therefore urging nursing and therapy staff to update their patient information packs with guidance on the type of clothing that would be relatively easy for nurses to help patients to put on and take off, along with suggestions of where to purchase specially adapted patient clothing that provides greater dignity and ease of use. Indeed, our survey findings highlighted that patients and their loved ones want this kind of information as 69% of survey respondents said they would be interested in buying adapted patient clothing.

If any hospitals would like further information about our clothes, leaflets or fliers to pass on to patients or find out more information on how we can support your patients with clothing please don’t hesitate to contact us – simply email claire@ingawellbieng.com and we will be happy to support you in any way that we can.


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