Help loved ones get up, dressed and moving when in hospital

A hospital patient. Stock image

A hospital patient. Stock image - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A call has gone out to family and friends to help staff get relatives and friends who are in hospital up, dressed and moving, by ensuring they regularly bring a fresh supply of comfortable clothing and footwear for them.

Many people, in particular older people, come into hospital to be treated for healthcare conditions but in the process are at risk of deconditioning as a result of too much bed rest.

Deconditioning due to prolonged stays in hospital can cause loss of muscle strength and may result in a longer stay in hospital, and higher risk of infections such as chest infections due to complications of being immobile.

Part of a national campaign called “end PJ paralysis”, so called because during their stay, patients often spend time in their pyjamas or hospital gowns, families can support loved ones in hospital by bringing a supply of fresh clothing and supportive footwear to ensure patients can get up, dressed and moving as soon as is appropriate.

Nick Jenkins, medical director at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Studies show that 10 days in hospital can lead to the equivalent of 10 years of ageing in the muscles of people over 80. Repairing this muscle wastage by re-conditioning exercises takes double the time the muscles took to deteriorate. One week of bed rest leads to a 10% reduction in strength, and for an older person who has just enough strength for climbing the stairs at home, getting out of bed or standing up from the toilet, losing the ability to do these simple tasks may make the difference between dependence and independence.


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“Retaining mobility and a level of independence will aid recovery, help reduce a patient’s length of stay in hospital, and support them to return home sooner. Getting up, dressed and moving is so important. Being in their own clothes also supports a person’s mental health and wellbeing because they feel better in themselves and on the road to recovery. Having families on standby to help contribute to the care of their loves ones’ and bringing clothes and toiletries in is simple but invaluable.”

In addition, the Trust is looking to introduce a “fit to sit” approach in its emergency department, encouraging staff to put a stop to patients lying down on trolleys if they are well enough to sit up.

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