Vandana Gupta and Mattie Lebajoa

Personalised cloth protectors

Background

Our passion to make a difference to people’s lives, whilst raising the standards and quality of care, led us to this project. It is aimed at making dignity and respect a main priority in care. Our project involves designing and providing personalised clothes protectors (PCPs) to our service users, which are discreet and indistinguishable from normal day to day attire. Clothing is representation of one’s personality and also enriches individual’s confidence and self-esteem. 

 

Clothing is representation of one’s personality and also enriches individual’s confidence and self-esteem

 

Personalised cloth protectors maintain service users’ dignity and improve their meal time experience. Service users involved in our project felt dignified, presentable and confident whilst dining socially with other residents and people whilst using personalised cloth protectors.

We also observed that people’s eating improved when they felt confident and presentable, therefore, we feel that  personalised clothes protectors can have a very positive impact on service users’ nutritional status. The effective use of a PCP also promotes a person-centred approach to nursing care and ensuring patients’ dignity and respect is a priority for everyone.

Aims

The project aimed to promote individual autonomy, dignity and respect through the use of personalised protective clothing. 

biscuits served to elderly man

We feel that personalised cloth protectors promoting confidence and independence for residents can encourage more socialisation at meal times

Objectives

  • To ensure dignity and respect remained a priority in health care, in the community and care sector
  • To promote person-centred care nationwide through a practical solution
  • To ensure adults are treated as such
  • To support people to maintain their confidence and self-esteem during meal times or whilst dining socially

Activity to date 

Our idea was prompted by one of our service users, who remarked during a meal time that “these bibs are so degrading”. She wished that there could be something nicer.

As a consequence, we looked at some of our local residential and nursing homes to see what they were using. The homes we visited either had the old style checked bibs/aprons or disposable plastic ones.

According to the Social Care Institute for Excellence (2009) and Duke (2013), cited in  www.nhswalesawards.wales.nhs.uk/opendoc/275861,  in relation to dignity, nurses should provide assistance discreetly by using appropriate aids such as serviettes and table napkins but not bibs, to protect clothing.

 

[...] nurses should provide assistance discreetly by using appropriate aids such as serviettes and table napkins but not bibs, to protect clothing

 

During our field work, it was evident that despite these recommendations, patients were using bibs and aprons. There is still a huge need for use of cloth protectors. We learned that even service users with mental capacity choose clothes protectors for their comfort, though they mentioned to us that dignified designs would be much appreciated.

Therefore, in 2016, we designed some clothes protectors themed around Christmas. These were made in the shape of ties for men and tops for female residents.

Outputs to date

We received positive feedback from the staff and residents in regards to the clothes protectors. Therefore, it gave us confidence to develop our clothes protectors further and to make them more personalised where possible.

Lessons learned

During this activity, we also received some constructive feedback from our laundry staff. They noted that the strings were too long and got tied up in the washing machines. They requested non-iron material.

We also noted that financial constraints, limited out ability to use manufactures in the UK.

open book

Reflections on impact

Personalised cloth protectors gave confidence to residents to dine socially. When we shared our personalised cloth protectors samples with some of our residents, they were so pleased to see them, some said that they can even wear whilst dining outside of the home and still feel comfortable and dignified.

The impact of personalised cloth protectors  was evident in the verbal feedback received from our residents, staff and relatives.

seniors by the table eating

[...] people’s eating improved when they felt confident and presentable [...]

The way forward

Yes, certainly there are outcomes which could be implemented more widely, for example this raises awareness that they are alternative ways and means of promoting a person-centred approach to care.  We feel that personalised cloth protectors promoting confidence and independence for residents can encourage more socialisation at meal times.  

 carer doing the dishes

Sustaining momentum

  • We are in discussion with two homes at the moment who are very interested in our project and its implementation in their own areas 
  • Distribution of leaflets publicising our initiative
  • Presenting our project at local health events e.g. RCN regional meetings 
  • Publication of product in health magazines e.g. Nursing Standard, Nursing Times, etc.
  • We are already planning to display our first poster at Nutrition conference held by Wessex Academic health science network’s conference on 06 March 2018 – ‘Making undernutrition in older people everybody’s business’
  • We will also be requesting and conducting regular resident, staff and relative surveys to underpin further development
  • We will be sharing best practice. We work very closely with our local CCGs and hospices, who have set up various link groups for the local care homes to learn and share good practice. These link groups are around dignity, quality of care and end of life care. We attend regular meetings on quarterly basis