Patient satisfaction plays a big part in making sure patients have a good experience and get better outcomes. When patients are happy with their care, they're more likely to stick to their treatment plan, follow medical advice, and take their medications and therapies as prescribed.
Plus, studies have shown that patient satisfaction is linked to shorter hospital stays, fewer readmissions, and better engagement in their care.
Today, let us acknowledge the impact of clothing on our self-esteem and self-expression. Numerous studies have shown that what we wear can affect how we feel about ourselves, even during hospitalisation. But here's the thing—traditional hospital gowns just don't cut it for many patients. Being forced to wear those gowns all the time can make patients feel like they've lost control, autonomy, and decision-making power, which can really take a toll on their well-being and recovery.
In this article, we will explore how traditional hospital gowns affect patient wellbeing and dive deeper into the benefits of adaptive clothing for patients in recovery.
The Challenges of Traditional Hospital Gowns
The unnecessary use of gowns can dehumanise care and even increase the risk of further hospitalisation. And it’s about time we question the cultural norms around hospital gown design. When we consider patients in a hospital setting, it's crucial to recognise that they are often experiencing anxiety in an unfamiliar and depersonalising environment. This is especially true for emergency admissions or patients with conditions such as dementia, delirium, or sensory impairment. These patients may already be feeling scared and vulnerable, and the hospital environment can exacerbate those emotions.
Many patients go into the hospital already anticipating anxiety and potential humiliation. They expect to be asked to wear a gown that leaves them exposed, made of uncomfortable, scratchy fabric that may even be see-through. But because this has been the norm, most individuals don’t question it. Read more about this passive acceptance here.
Hospital gowns also lack warmth and insulation, leaving patients feeling cold and uncomfortable, which can negatively impact their well-being and recovery, especially in public areas where additional clothing or blankets may not be readily available. They can also limit mobility due to their loose and awkward design, resulting in discomfort and frustration for patients when moving or changing positions, which can disrupt daily activities and independence.
The inadequate coverage and protection provided by hospital gowns can expose patients to potential infections and injuries, increasing the risk of complications, particularly for patients with compromised immune systems or open wounds. While hospital gowns are necessary in critical care, surgery, or certain imaging procedures, they may not be needed for most patients during their hospital stay. Yet, we often see patients wearing gowns long after they're necessary.
Adaptive Clothing and Its Role in Patient-Centered Care
Patient-centered care is a healthcare approach that prioritises the needs, preferences, and values of patients. It involves understanding and respecting the unique characteristics of each patient and tailoring care plans accordingly.
Personalised care plans are tailored to each patient's unique needs, including their medical history, current condition, preferences for treatment options, cultural beliefs, and values related to their health and well-being. Allowing patients to wear adaptive clothing of their choice is consistent with the principles of patient-centered care for several reasons:
Autonomy and Respect for Patient Choice
Allowing patients to wear adaptive clothing of their choice respects their autonomy and empowers them to make decisions about their clothing based on their own preferences, comfort, and cultural or religious beliefs. It honors their individuality and treats them with respect, fostering a therapeutic relationship between patients and healthcare providers built on trust and mutual respect.
Comfort and Dignity
Adaptive clothing may have features such as adjustable closures, soft fabrics, or specialised designs that make it easier to put on or take off, and promote comfort and ease of movement. This is especially important for patients who may already be dealing with physical or emotional challenges, and wearing clothing that meets their specific needs can help alleviate additional stress or discomfort.
Some patients may have cultural or religious preferences regarding their clothing, such as modesty requirements or specific dress codes. It acknowledges that their clothing choices are important to them and validates their cultural or religious practices, which can contribute to a positive healthcare experience and build trust between patients and healthcare providers.
By accommodating patients' choices in clothing, healthcare providers can promote individualised care that acknowledges the patient's holistic needs and provides care that is aligned with their preferences, thereby enhancing their overall healthcare experience. It recognises that patients have the right to make decisions about their clothing based on their own preferences and needs, and respects their identity and individuality.
The Benefits of Adaptive Clothing
Adaptive clothing provides numerous benefits to patients undergoing recovery from surgeries, injuries, or medical conditions that may affect their mobility or dexterity. These specialised garments are thoughtfully designed with the specific needs of individuals with physical or mobility challenges in mind. They mainly address the limitations that patients may face due to injuries, surgeries, disabilities, or medical conditions that affect their ability to move, dress, or manage fastenings.
Here are some key ways in which adaptive clothing is tailored to meet the unique requirements of individuals with physical or mobility challenges:
- Easy Dressing
- Modified Closures
- Soft, Comfortable Fabrics
- Functional Design
- Dignity and Style