Recovering from an illness? Don’t spend too long in your pyjamas…

first_imgAsked to picture a hospital ward, you would probably imagine a line of beds occupied by patients wearing pyjamas or nightdresses.But now, England’s chief nurse, Professor Jane Cummings, wants to change all that — she is leading a new campaign against a threat to the health of patients, particularly older patients, which she has called ‘pyjama paralysis’.In essence, this is the idea that wearing pyjamas reinforces the feeling of being unwell and slows down patients’ recovery.Professor Cummings wants NHS nurses to get patients up and about and dressed in their own clothes as soon as is possible.Last week, she issued nurses with a 70-day challenge, setting them a target of cutting bed rest by the equivalent of one million patient days between April 17 and June 26.Her scheme exhorts nurses to identify patients who are ready to move out of bed and encourage them to change out of their pyjamas and get up and about.To many, this might seem counterintuitive; bed rest has been a staple of nursing care since the days of Florence Nightingale. However, research increasingly suggests that it can have negative effects.A report by the National Audit Office (NAO) in 2016, for example, found that just ten days spent in bed can effectively age your body by the equivalent of ten years.This is due to a phenomenon called ‘deconditioning’, whereby a sustained lack of activity causes a sudden plunge in fitness levels.Ten days of inactivity withers bed-resting patients’ leg and muscle strength by at least 10 per cent, says the NAO report. Meanwhile their heart and lung fitness — measured as aerobic capacity — drops by around 12 per cent. Furthermore, ‘wearing pyjamas reinforces feeling unwell and can prevent a speedy recovery’, argues Professor Cummings. Making the move to day clothes can shift a patient’s self-image from ‘I’m sick’ to ‘I’m getting better’.Obviously, each patient’s condition needs to be taken into consideration and this idea cannot apply to everyone, she adds, but for many, ‘it’s a matter of nurses enabling them to get up, get dressed and get moving’.A report by the National Audit Office (NAO) in 2016, for example, found that just ten days spent in bed can effectively age your body by the equivalent of ten years.This is due to a phenomenon called ‘deconditioning’, whereby a sustained lack of activity causes a sudden plunge in fitness levels.Ten days of inactivity withers bed-resting patients’ leg and muscle strength by at least 10 per cent, says the NAO report. Meanwhile their heart and lung fitness — measured as aerobic capacity — drops by around 12 per cent. Furthermore, ‘wearing pyjamas reinforces feeling unwell and can prevent a speedy recovery’, argues Professor Cummings. Making the move to day clothes can shift a patient’s self-image from ‘I’m sick’ to ‘I’m getting better’.Obviously, each patient’s condition needs to be taken into consideration and this idea cannot apply to everyone, she adds, but for many, ‘it’s a matter of nurses enabling them to get up, get dressed and get moving’.Sourcelast_img read more