Judging a Book by Its Cover: Uniforms and Quality of Life in Special Care Units for People With Dementia

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Abstract

Objectives:

In certain health care facilities, the staff commonly wear uniforms for dementia care. Wearing uniforms are often believed to improve the well-being of institutionalized people with dementia (PwD) by facilitating orientation and preserving hygiene. However, when studied more thoroughly, it appears that their use counters to person centeredness. This study aims to investigate the impact of wearing uniforms on the quality of life (QoL) of institutionalized PwD.

Method:

A natural experimental design was operated in 4 special care units (SCUs) in France. Two SCUs served as an experimental group (caregivers wearing street clothes except when performing hands-on physical care; N = 13) and 2 served as a comparison group (caregivers wearing uniforms; N = 14). The QoL of PwD was measured using the QoL-Alzheimer's Disease scale, and focus groups were carried out with caregivers.

Results:

Overall and significantly enhanced QoL scores were observed for the experimental street clothing staff group when compared to the uniform group. Caregivers also reported subjective impressions of overall beneficial outcomes for PwD when the caregivers were not wearing uniforms and reported feeling more at ease when interacting with them.

Conclusion:

Results are discussed in terms of intergroup relationships, living and working conditions, and ethical issues.

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