A national campaign to end “pyjama paralysis” has helped reduce falls and pressure ulcers and cut the length of time people spent in hospital, according to an evaluation.
The 70-day challenge, launched by England’s chief nursing officer Professor Jane Cummings earlier this year, has seen hundreds of hospitals across the UK take steps to ensure patients got up and dressed and took part in activities instead of being stuck in bed.
“I am thrilled how staff are continuing to implement the principles of the campaign”
In all, the drive has given back more than 710,000 days to patients, according to those behind the scheme. An evaluation shows it has led to reductions in falls, pressure ulcers and shorter lengths of stay, as well as improvements in patients’ experience of hospital care.
She said the results showed the difference that helping people to get up and about could make and is now calling on all settings caring for frail and elderly people to embrace the concept.
“We know that many people who are in hospital beds could be helped to get back on their feet sooner, which helps them to get back home to loved ones more quickly,” she said. “The campaign to end PJ paralysis has shown what can be achieved when this gold standard is adopted.”
“By getting more patients mobile more often and use of technology we recorded a further reduction in falls”
Studies have shown that wearing pyjamas and night clothes can reinforce feelings of being unwell and can actually hinder recovery.
Research has also shown that around three in five immobile, older patients in hospital have no medical reason for bed rest and increasing the amount of walking they do helps reduce length of stay.
Getting up and keeping moving is particularly important for people over 80, who can expect to lose 10% of their muscle mass for every 10 days they spend in hospital – the equivalent of 10 years of ageing.
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Professor Brian Dolan, visiting professor of nursing at the Oxford Institute of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Research, said the end PJ paralysis campaign had “taken the UK by storm”.
“It has continued to galvanise nurses, therapists, doctors and managers in ways I’ve not witnessed in a 30 plus year career,” he said.
“I am thrilled how staff are continuing to implement the principles of the campaign to improve outcomes for patients and those we care for,” said Professor Dolan.
He said encouraging patients to wear their own clothes in hospital not only enhanced patients’ dignity and sense of identity, but also worked well for staff.
“Encouraging patients to get dressed everyday rather than remaining in their pyjamas or hospital gown when they do not need to boosts recovery and makes the most of precious time,” he said.
Organisations that have seen the benefits include the Northern Care Alliance Group of hospitals in Greater Manchester, where staff have been working to end PJ paralysis since June 2017.
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Under the drive, championed by group chief nursing officer Elaine Inglesby-Burke, frontline nursing staff devised and trialled different ways of working with patients, relatives and visitors.
This led to a “change package”, produced by the group’s quality improvement team, being rolled out to all wards and intermediate care units.
These include the Pendleton Suite at Salford Royal Foundation Trust, which provides nurse-led care for patients ready to leave the hospital following emergency treatment.
Sarah Elliot, ward manager for the 49-bed unit, said efforts to end PJ paralysis had significantly reduced the number of falls among patients.
“Before we started the campaign we had been working towards reducing the number of falls on the ward, but by getting more patients mobile more often and use of technology we recorded a further reduction in falls from an average of 12 per month, to two in July this year,” she said.
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The initiative had been welcomed by patients with plenty if positive feedback.
“Whether it’s a visit from a therapy dog, taking part in group games, or joining a social mealtime – every day of the week there is a reason for people on Pendleton to get up, dressed and moving,” she said.
“We’ve encouraged family members to bring in patients’ clothes, so that they can start to regain a sense of normality,” said Ms Elliot.
She added: “We often hear how much patients value the encouragement from staff, and a routine which helps them get ready to leave hospital.”