Inpatient facilities present a unique situation where individuals' clothing choices are controlled. Inpatients are generally dressed in a standard issue hospital gown that is designed for nurses’ ease of use and allows access for different medical needs, or in the case of mental health facilities, addresses safety needs.
However, patients often describe feeling disempowered, exposed, and self-conscious, and associate hospital clothing with the transition from person to patient. Through advocacy, consultation, and partnerships with government agencies, medical facilities and medical textile manufacturers, we look forward to improving internal inpatient clothing standards with the development of policies and practices that prioritize patient body privacy, dignity, self esteem, and comfort.
For inpatients experiencing long stays who are capable of independent dress, research demonstrates that it is detrimental to their wellbeing to wear the current standardized hospital clothing. In these situations, Dressing Changes proposes a service that gifts patients with clothing to meet their individual needs, and bring hope and connection during a challenging time.
Dressing Changes will partner with medical facilities to identify patients who would benefit from our service, enter facilities to meet patients to understand their needs and provide a human connection, and deliver a gift-wrapped package of garments to patients’ bedsides.
The Dressing Changes service will provide inpatients with clothing that supports and eases their healing journey. For some patients, that may be a comfortable sweater that accommodates easy access to their chest port for chemotherapy. For others, it may be a brightly coloured garment that helps them feel like themselves again.
The process of this service may begin with a healthcare worker identifying a patient who could benefit from our work, and connecting them to our service offering through the relevant clinical manager or social worker. Next, we would conduct a short bedside meeting to understand the individual's needs, and offer a moment of human connection that centres the individual as a unique person, rather than a patient. Within a few days, we would deliver a gift-wrapped package of clothing items tailored to the individual’s needs.
The execution of this work requires cooperation between many stakeholders, with key partnerships being developed between Dressing Changes, medical facilities, funding sources, and clothing brands. We hope to establish partnerships with clothing companies whose products address our customers' most common needs, supplemented with sourcing for more specific clothing products from alternate providers. These clothing partnerships will offset our fundraising needs, with other financial support potentially coming from government funding, and community and business donations.
Patients who stand to benefit the most include those:
This year, Dressing Changes has prioritized research, service design and business development. With the foundation of the initiative completed, we recently were accepted into Ryerson's Social Venture Zone incubation stream. With the support of the Zone, Dressing Changes is working to establish a board of directors, gain non-profit status, further our research through pilots in local medical facilities, and secure partnerships and funding to roll out our programming.
Dressing Changes aims to evolve into an established non-profit that reimagines patient dress in healing settings. This long term goal includes continued advocacy and support for health facilities in implementing improved dress-related practices, while executing an inpatient clothing service in local facilities to meet patients’ immediate needs.