Uniforms in dementia care: A barrier or a necessity?
In this case study Mitchell (2016) discusses a real ethical dilemma in a dementia care home in Northern Ireland. Two groups of care staff were divided on the issue of whether or not to continue wearing a uniform. It had been proposed that staff wear their own clothes, including nightwear for night shifts or wear clothes appropriate for the 50s and 60s, an era familiar to most residents. Those supporting the change felt that clothes related to this era would stimulate discussion and reminiscence while staff wearing nightwear would help to orient residents to the fact that it was night time. Staff in favour of retaining uniforms felt that the change in practice might be disruptive and confusing to residents and that it could also contribute to stigma as agency staff and visitors might perceive that people with dementia are living in a fantasy world. There was also some concern that staff wearing nightwear could trigger inappropriate sexual responses from some residents. Both sets of views were framed within a person centred approach and management decided that the continued use of uniforms was the best approach for residents at this time.