Hospital staff make things better by design


Hospital staff in Cottingham have improved privacy and dignity for cancer patients by designing a new style of radiotherapy gown.

Working with international textile company, Berendsen, members of Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust’s Radiotherapy Team have developed the gown which ensures patients’ modesty is preserved when receiving essential radiotherapy treatment.

Michelle Hughes, Macmillan Radiotherapy Information and Support Radiographer at Castle Hill Hospital explains:

“The gowns we use within radiotherapy for our cancer patients are styled in a similar way to a sleeveless vest. Previously the gowns we used were fitted with zips, and whilst they were functional, some of the zips only opened part way, meaning access to certain parts of the body was limited or made more difficult.

“Last year, we were given the opportunity to work with Berendsen to design a new, bespoke product which would better protect the dignity of our patients whilst fully meeting our specific needs as radiographers too.

“Working with colleagues at Berendsen, we worked through a number of different designs and prototypes to develop a new gown which still uses a vest style, but which is held together at the front, sides and shoulders with poppers. This now means that only the parts of the patient which need to be exposed to enable the radiotherapy treatment to take place are on show.

“What’s more, the gowns now come in one single size which is suitable for all patients, rather than the previous gowns which were individually sized. In the past it was difficult for staff, and sometimes embarrassing for patients, if we didn’t have the right sized gown available, but now we can be sure of having gowns which are suitable for all of our patients, no matter how big or small they are.

“Whilst these are relatively simple changes, they are ultimately designed to improve patients’ dignity whilst in our care. Having spoken to a number of patients who are using the gowns, they agree that, whilst they are still not the most flattering pieces of clothing, they certainly do the job and are helping to improve patients’ experience of radiotherapy treatment.”

The new gowns are offered to all patients undergoing radiotherapy where their upper clothing has to be removed, but at the moment, they are largely being used by patients undergoing radiotherapy for breast cancer. The versatile design also means they would be equally suitable for other patient groups where access to the upper body is needed, such as those undergoing treatment for lung conditions or cardiac care, as well as for roll-out to other hospitals across the country.

Lynton Hamblett, Sales Consultant for Berendsen says:

“I was approached by the Radiography department and asked if we could provide a suitable gown that would provide access to the necessary parts of the body whilst maintaining a patient’s dignity. Berendsen pride ourselves on listening to our customers and were only too pleased to help with the design and manufacture of this product. The result of this is that we now have an excellent gown to show to all Trusts in the country that will improve patient care across a number of specialities.”