PATIENTS at the Countess of Chester Hospital are being encouraged to ditch the pyjamas and gowns and get dressed every day.
Health chiefs believe it will put them in a better frame of mind and spur them on to a quicker recovery, freeing up much-needed bed space.
People will be urged to bring in their own clothes so they can get up, get dressed and move around the ward if possible.
The move is part of a national campaign called ‘#endPJparalysis’ which was first introduced earlier this year by Nottingham University Hospitals Foundation Trust.
Groups of therapists, specialist nurses and other ward staff donned gowns themselves to kick-start the campaign at the Countess, receiving 70 pledges in an hour from passers-by committing to bring clothes with them whenever they come to hospital.
Jennifer Brownley, an occupational therapist, said: “We often notice that as soon as you mention going home people tend to get up and dressed. Often they look really smart and you can see the confidence boost they get.
“We want to tap into that every day where possible and make it so pyjamas aren’t limiting people.”
The initiative has also been picked up by hospitals as far away as Canada and New Zealand.
It is based on the idea that patients are more likely to feel confident about returning home if they go back to wearing clothes as soon as they are healthy enough to do so.
Occupational therapist Charlotte Wilson-Parry has seen this in action and hopes they can inspire more patients to take ownership of what they wear.
She said: “When patients come into the hospital and they’re all wearing the same pyjamas they can lose their individuality.
“When people are in their own clothes it helps them to express themselves and think more about leaving hospital.”
The Countess’ nurse and therapy-led intermediate care unit, which takes a 24-hour approach to rehabilitation, has become a particularly keen supporter of the campaign.
This less clinical area of the hospital provides a next-step-home environment for patients who are medically fit but need extra support in their recovery before they are discharged.
Moving independently is essential for patients on this ward and occupational therapist Nathan Meech sees the campaign as a good way to get more patients out of bed.
“Getting patients back to a normal routine is really important and I feel like patients who are in their own clothes feel better in themselves and it helps to create the environment we want as a rehab ward,” Nathan said.
“I think the patients who don’t wear their own clothes feel more institutionalised, they look more like patients and that is something we want to move away from on this ward.”
See full story in the Chester Leader