Calgary

Program aims to end 'PJ paralysis' in Calgary and Edmonton hospitals

The idea is that by encouraging long-term patients to change out of hospital gowns and into personal garments on a daily basis, their health outcomes will be improved.

Long-term patients encouraged to change out of hospital gown and into their own clothes each day

Juan Vargas has been in the hospital for a month and says the program encourages and motivates him. (Anis Heydari/CBC)

Health workers in Calgary are trying out a new way to improve care in hospitals — by getting patients to change into their own clothes.

It's an Alberta Health Services program called End PJ Paralysis.

The idea is that by encouraging long-term patients to change out of hospital gowns and into personal garments on a daily basis, their health outcomes will be improved.

"It's been quite incredible seeing the patients up and dressed," said Sarah Staples, an occupational therapist at Foothills hospital.

"It automatically gives the patients increased feelings of health and an identity on the unit. So nursing staff will come back and tell me about patients that are dressed, and patients have said to me that they feel like themselves again."

Started in the United Kingdom, the program has spread to hospitals in both the Calgary and Edmonton regions.

Sarah Staples, an occupational therapist at Foothills hospital, says the program gives patients a sense of identity. (Anis Heydari/CBC)

Rozalia Meichl has been receiving treatment since getting shoved off a Calgary LRT platform in November, leaving her paralyzed from the chest down.

The 64-year-old makes a point of changing out of her hospital gown every morning, even though it can be a lengthy process.

"The moment I'm dressed I know I'm ready for the day," she said.

Paul Wright, AHS's manager of patient and family-centred care for the Calgary Zone, says when patients are dressed, they're less likely to want to return to bed.

"So you're going to stay up, stay dressed instead, to do some of your activities of daily living," he said.

Rozalia Meichl has been receiving treatment since getting shoved off a Calgary LRT platform in November, leaving her paralyzed from the chest down. (Anis Heydari/CBC)

After a month in hospital, Juan Vargas has also felt the difference.

"Fifteen days ago, I not only was able to do almost nothing, I lay down in their bed for hours and hours," he said.

It takes him a while to change out of his hospital gown, but he says it's worth it.

"With my own clothes I try to do something different every day."

It's a message echoed on posters all around the hospital, which read, "Pajamas say you're unwell — clothes say you're getting better."

With files from Anis Heydari

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