CARING ENVIRONMENT: Richardson Hospital patient Margaret Fawcett with healthcare assistant Julie Metcalf, ward manager Jean Heslop, healthcare assistant Karen Redmond and staff nurse Mihaela Matei
CARING ENVIRONMENT: Richardson Hospital patient Margaret Fawcett with healthcare assistant Julie Metcalf, ward manager Jean Heslop, healthcare assistant Karen Redmond and staff nurse Mihaela Matei

A COMMUNITY hospital has proved it has already put an end to “pyjama paralysis” ahead of a national campaign which aims to give patients back one million days of time that would have been wasted in bed.

Hospitals nationwide are involved in NHS England’s #EndPJparalysis 70 day challenge. The aim is to boost patients’ recovery by getting them up, dressed in their own clothes and moving.

In Teesdale, that approach is part of everyday practice at the Richardson Hospital, in Barnard Castle.

Margaret Fawcett, of West Auckland, was a patient at the community hospital for three nights last month after having a fall.

The 57-year-old spoke highly of her stay and praised staff for their dedication to ensure she was soon back on her feet.

She said: “You are dressed everyday and it is like you are going home. I haven’t seen anyone that they haven’t dressed. I think that is the best way to get better. When you are in your pyjamas you don’t want to do anything. When you are dressed you feel better. You are in your own clothes.

“When I first came in I could not bear any weight. They didn’t say to me ‘just lie there and we will bring you your bedpan’. I was up.

“Getting dressed on a morning is a priority here. For rehabilitation and getting back in your own home that is good.”

Research suggests walking around, with help if needed, leads to a speedier recovery and gives patients a sense of wellbeing.

“There is evidence that wearing comfortable shoes, rather than slippers, also aids mobility and safety and relatives are being encouraged to help too.

A pilot run of the initiative gave patients back 91,728 days worth of time across nine trusts in the East of England. In the first 14 days of this campaign in April, 4,719 patients across the hospitals nationwide had at least taken a short walk during their stay. As well as this, 4,038 patients had been dressed – almost 20 per cent more than previously.

A County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust spokesperson said: “Improved mobility and motivation can lead to an earlier discharge home to familiar comforts and routines.

Sam Turner

“We all know how important this can be, particularly in those aged over 80 as there is evidence that for them, ten days of bed rest in hospital leads to the equivalent of ten years of muscle ageing – so getting up and about is crucial.”

Although staff at the Richardson Hospital support the campaign, they say it doesn’t change what they do.

Staff nurse Mihaela Matei said: “For us there is no difference with this campaign.

“We have always done it. Being in your pyjamas in hospital makes you feel ill.”

Ward manager Jean Heslop said: “It has always been done here and patients always feel better for it.

“It helps to rehabilitate patients and get them back to normal.

“We are rehabilitation so that is the next step to going home. You don’t go home in your pyjamas.”

Speaking of her stay, Ms Fawcett said: “It is the most pleasant experience here. I just can’t thank the staff enough.

“They have got me back on my feet. Richardson Hospital is a lovely setting and it is very relaxing. It is like a hotel.

“There should be more places like this. Rehabilitation is all about getting your confidence back and a place like this does that.”

The Friends of Richardson Hospital’s honorary secretary, Iris Hillery, added: “We are pleased to see research proving that the positive approaches that have been custom and practice for many years at the Richardson do help patients to improve more quickly. We’ve also provided comfortable chairs to encourage people to get up and dressed as well as TVs, music and puzzles in the day rooms for those that are on the mend.”

The campaign ends on June 26 in time for the NHS 70th anniversary celebrations on July 5.