Design a range of functional patient clothes that significantly reduce the risk of physical exposure and cater for differences in patient size and cultural and religious preferences. Design for Patient Dignity - Brief 1/7
This one-size-fits-all gown is reversible, with a choice of v-neck or round-neck. It’s easy to put on and covers the patient’s front and back, while its press-stud fastenings mean equipment like IV lines can be attached without exposing the skin.
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Designer: Ben de Lisi
Industry supplier: Silvereed
How it works
Ben de Lisi’s gown covers both the front and back of the patient: it opens and closes down both sides and across one shoulder, fastening with a series of polymer press-studs. This means IV lines and other equipment can be attached in between the press-studs without exposing the patient’s skin. It’s completely reversible, so nursing staff can ensure that the sleeve with the press-stud openings is on the side nearest to any bedside medical equipment. With a v-neck on one side and a round or crew neck on the other, patients can choose which neckline to have at the front.
The gown is made of poly-cotton with softer jersey at the neck and shoulders for comfort and ease of movement. Additional side panels can be fitted to accommodate bariatric patients, making this one gown flexible enough to replace a range of traditional hospital garments including nightgowns and dressing gowns, which would work out cheaper and easier for hospitals.
Because it opens out completely, the gown is easy to put on and take off. Nursing staff can dress patients without removing oxygen masks or other equipment attached to a patient’s head, and it can be laid out flat so that even completely immobile patients can be rolled onto it, in the same way that nurses change bed linen around patients who can’t be moved.
The Universal Gown is the centrepiece of a new range of patient wear, including pyjama bottoms, a wrap-around fleece and a lightweight shoulder bag for personal effects.
The issue in context
Traditional hospital gowns open at the back, which can mean patients expose parts of their bodies that they would rather not show, especially when they are walking around the hospital. Any gown overcoming this issue would still need to allow clinical and nursing staff to access all areas of a patient for quick and easy treatment.
The designer’s insights
Ben de Lisi says: ‘This project isn’t about glamour it’s about well-being. This gown has to be hardworking and user-friendly and help clinicians to do their job — without costing NHS Trusts more money.’
De Lisi consulted around 30 hospital staff and patients during his design process and gathered their feedback on his design ideas. ‘I had wrapping ideas, gowns with ties, tent gowns with Velcro tabs, kimono-type gowns with snap details, jersey gowns, and enveloping gowns you pull over your head and pull the wrap back over the front. I took the sketches to some of the staff nurses and they immediately picked two gowns that they liked.’
Changes had to be made, for instance when de Lisi found out that the press-studs couldn’t be metal because they wouldn’t be able to go into an MRI scanner. And a conversation with an ICU matron led to his biggest design breakthrough, when she pointed out that she wouldn’t be able to get the original design over a patient’s head if they were attached to monitors or breathing apparatus. ‘“What can you do about it?” she said, and I said, “We’ll open up the shoulder. Simple.” And she said, “Do that and we’re happy.”’