Written by Georgie Huntley
Co-Founder, Niche Jobs
The English dictionary describes uniforms as a particular style of clothing which a group of people wear to show they belong to a group or movement.
At present, there is debate in the care sector about whether health care assistants should wear uniforms in their work.
From my own perspective, I can recognise how uniforms can be useful in health care settings. They tick health and safety boxes by ensuring good hygiene. I also understand they can help define workers making a worker more identifiable to families, patients and other staff.
Many co-workers I have spoken to like wearing uniforms, stating “it keeps their own clothes in better condition” and “gives them less things to think about in the morning”.
I must admit, I've always struggled with the concept and actuality of wearing a uniform.
For me, clothes are a form of expression and I find something uncreative and almost demeaning about putting on a shapeless blue smock top, which hides my individuality and persona.
However, putting my own ego aside for a second, does wearing/not-wearing a uniform benefit residents with dementia?
In my previous place of work, a small residential and nursing dementia unit, we were requested to wear our own clothes with management encouraging us to wear big bold bright colours and patterns.
The justification for this request was to make residents feel more at home and less institutionalised.
There is also opinion that having bright colours on display can provide residents with dementia a form of visual stimulation which may sooth some of the agitation that could be brought on by some symptoms of this disease.
I have found that when caring for older adults with dementia I feel more comfortable in my own clothes. Bright clothes can insight some interesting conversations and interactions, leading to relationship building with the residents.
Wearing my own clothes can communicate aspects of my identity, which can lead to me being more creative and open in how I look after others.
Perhaps a larger conversation on this topic, in all care homes is a necessity. We can truly respond to the debate of whether wearing uniforms in dementia care are a practical necessity, or an obsolete tradition that should be modernised, in response to this current thinking.