outfit for hospital admission
St Andrew’s Hospital Admission 1977 by Dennis Mayor (1922 – ). Dennis Mayor collection of Photographs. State Library of Victoria

With my recent surgical visit fresh in my mind, today I’m offering an Outfit for Hospital Admission. This outfit is for your first day at hospital, whether that’s for a day procedure, overnight, or a longer stay. Your hospital will tell you about any other items you should bring with you.

Climate/Location/Activities

The first thing to note is that the climate control favours the comfort of the staff, most of whom will be running around doing stuff. For you, it will probably be too cool.

You will be sitting (waiting) in a variety of places; the general waiting room, the admissions office, and an assessment or treatment room before you are admitted to a ward. At which point your hospital gown is waiting, and you will be on your final wait before your treatment.

And if, like me, you are a minimalist packer, you will wear this outfit when you leave, so take into account your ability to bend and reach when it comes to getting dressed again.

Presence

If ever there was a place you need a bit of presence, this is it. Somewhere in that succession of increasing small and unattractive rooms you transition from a person into patient number whatever. (And nowhere is this more evident than when they ask for your name and address).

Dressing well always inspires a better level of care, plus wearing the colours and styles you love will give you more confidence to query anything you don’t understand. however, you need to balance this against the potential need (or want) to have a bonfire and burn it all because that’s easier than cleaning it when you get home. And if it turns out you don’t need to wear a gown, then so much the better!

Clothes

The best clothes are clean and comfortable with a little stretch; this is almost the only time aside from exercise that I consider leaving the house in track pants and t-shirts. These are generally easy to get on and off, and allow good access for blood pressure and other checks.

Remembering that you’ll be wearing this outfit home as well, and you might feel the effects of residual anaesthetic, pain or other post surgical limitations (like dressed wounds), avoid tight clothes with an excess of zips and buttons, and consider soft smooth textures over rough chunky ones.

Underclothes

You may or may not end up wearing one of those hospital gowns that does up the back leaving your arse hanging out for all to see, so wear something nice, but not so nice that you will be upset if they get blood, iodine, or other substances on them. Your physician/surgeon will let you know if there are any special requirements.

Shoes

The dreaded “sensible” shoes; something flat, with good grip on sometimes slippery floors, that is easy to get on or off without having to bend over. Depending on the hospital and the procedure you might be able to wear the socks to keep your feet warm in between times. Or take some slipper socks with non-slip soles.

Accessories

Don’t wear any jewellery at all if you can avoid it. They create potential for snag related injury to you and your medical team, as well as contaminating a sterile area.

Wear your glasses and leave your contacts at home. Take any other aids you need, such as hearing or walking.

Take a loose wrap for when you get cold; these are better than cardigans or jackets as you can easily rearrange your layers to adjust your heat. And if you have cannulas, intravenous tubes, or wounds with drains you won’t be able to wear things that cling to your arms.

Top it off with a small bag containing just your essentials; a small amount of cash, your relevant medical cards, and something to read or listen to.

Remember that hospitals do not accept responsibility for your belongings so leave everything you don’t need at home.

Grooming

Some hospitals prefer a bare face, but don’t seem to mind tinted moisturiser. They also like short plain fingernails (for the pulse monitor) and may ask you to have any acrylics or polishes removed. It’s also best to avoid strong fragrances to ensure that the team don’t have to deal with that when they should be focused entirely on what they are doing. You will probably be lying on your back, so a simple hair style (e.g. ponytail) to keep it under control before they put that lovely surgical hat on.

Wrap Up

Going into hospital is unsettling enough without having to worry too much about what you look like, but, like job interviews, knowing that you look good helps boost your confidence. There is some evidence that people who are positive and confident heal faster and have better results from medical interventions so it’s worth a try!


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