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P70 Staff uniforms in care homes – demonstrating professionalism but diminishing home? A qualitative analysis of online content and discussion forums
  1. Jennifer Liddle1,
  2. Abdulwahab Alazawi1,
  3. Dawn Esslemont2,
  4. Barbara Hanratty1,
  5. Christine Henderson2,
  6. Louise Jones1,
  7. Lisa Wilson2
  1. 1Population Health Sciences Institute, NIHR ARC NENC, Newcastle University, Newcastle, UK
  2. 2Eothen Care Homes, Newcastle, UK


Background The debate about whether care home staff should wear uniforms or not is ongoing, with little research evidence to draw on. Uniforms may give staff a professional image and can help residents to identify staff. However, a non-uniform approach could contribute to an environment feeling homely and relaxing, impacting on wellbeing and quality of life. The removal of staff uniforms in care homes is an emerging trend in the UK that warrants consideration. This study aimed to use existing online content to provide insight into the perceived impacts of staff clothing in care homes.

Methods Google searches were conducted using 14 search terms related to care homes and staff clothing to identify publicly available content about staff uniforms in care homes. The first 50+ records from each search were screened for relevance. Dress codes/policies and websites selling or marketing uniforms were excluded. 16 items of content were identified, including care home website pages, blog posts, magazine/news articles and discussion forums. A reflexive thematic analytical approach was used to code data and develop themes, supported by NVivo software.

Results Three themes were developed: staff clothing impacts behavior, perceptions and care home atmosphere; staff clothing has implications for resident and staff mental, physical and social wellbeing; lack of consensus on best practice regarding staff clothing in care homes. Uniform was viewed as traditional in health and care settings, bringing a sense of authority and connotations related to individual lifecourse experiences. Staff clothing was believed to impact interactions between staff and residents, influencing care and quality of life for residents, and job satisfaction for staff. Uniform was suggested as important for hygiene and infection control, bringing a more clinical atmosphere and convenience for staff and visitors. Care home setting (e.g. size, resident characteristics) was perceived as a moderating factor.

Conclusion The topic of staff clothing in care homes is complex, generating strong opinions online among care professionals and members of the public. Staff clothing is perceived to have multiple impacts, but there is a lack of consensus about these. In the absence of robust research evidence, uniform may be seen as less risky for residents’ physical health, hygiene and infection control, but is viewed as potentially incurring psychological and/or social risks. There is a need to research the impact of staff clothing and to explore how decisions about staff clothing policies are made, including their rationale, who is involved in decision-making and whose needs are prioritised.

  • care home
  • social care
  • clothing

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