We delve into the importance of uniforms in care homes and the benefits they can provide in terms of business setup

In general, UK care workers in both care home environments and in-home care roles tend to wear a uniform. Interweave Healthcare explained how the UK care home uniform typically consists of a tunic and trousers with sturdy, flat shoes and having a particular uniform can present a range of benefits to employees and residents alike.

Making staff easily recognisable, providing employees with comfort, boosted hygiene and looking professional are just some of the advantages of uniforms in care homes. The tunic and trouser combination is an extension of those worn in hospital wards and Aldersmead Care Home explained how historically, it made sense to dress in a similar way as professional colleagues who worked in a different setting. They reported: “But now some workplaces, including care homes, are rethinking whether it is necessary or even desirable for all of their staff to wear a uniform.”

Aldersmead Care Home revealed that the primary reason many give for liking a uniform on staff is the ability to easily identify a team member on sight. This can be very important for elderly residents whose memory is beginning to make it difficult to remember names and faces: “A uniform shows, at a glance, that someone is staff, and adding a name badge means that, if a resident can no longer recall names easily, they can often read a badge, allowing for a more personal relationship.”

In terms of the overall business setup, professionalism is of utmost importance in a care home setting, being a key element in initially drawing in potential residents. At prominent opportunities such as open days, it provides care homes with a key chance to make a great first impression and the main way to do this is through their staff members. The overall appearance of someone says a lot about a person’s demeanour as well as their attitude. If you don’t have set open days, this could mean that you have potential residents visiting all year round, meaning there’s all the more reason to ensure staff look presentable day in, day out. In line with this, it’s essential to ensure all members of staff have a decent amount of uniform, for reasons outlined in our Essential 5 piece.

With roles in care often meaning staff are prone to getting messy due to the nature of their job, keeping on top of a pristine appearance can be tricky, but by ensuring each staff member has a spare in their locker, this can be made easier. Another way to keep staff looking professional at all times is by ensuring their uniform is the right size… there’s nothing worse than something being too tight or too big and providing staff with a hazard! As a care home manager or operator, it’s your job to regularly check in with staff to ensure they have plenty of tunics and trousers and in the right size. This will only benefit you in the long run, by eliminating potential problems which may arise like a staff member having to wear non-uniform because their trousers have split from being too small, or a carer having to take a trip to hospital leaving the home short-staffed after tripping over trouser legs which are too long. It’s all about seeing problems and dealing with them before they arise.

Setting yourself apart from other care homes on the market is vital to ensure your occupancy rates are always booming. One simple way to do this is by going above any beyond and making it apparent.

When it comes to uniform, taking certain colours into consideration and the benefits they can present to particular residents will contribute to positioning you at the forefront of potential residents’ minds.

Uniforms4Healthcare revealed how stimulating the mind is essential to elderly wellness: “Mental exercising helps delay the consequences of dementia and various activities will contribute in this, including the choice of bright care home uniforms. Sensory stimulation is one of the methods which help communication for people with dementia. It also reduces agitation and sleep disturbances.”

In particular, visual stimulation is very useful for patients affected by Alzheimers. The stimulation can involve light, shape, motion and colour. Some of these stimulations can also help with bringing back memories. For instance, Uniforms4Helathcare revealed that looking at a sunset might help the patients to remember a similar scenario in their past; an old photo could bring some memories back too. Visual stimulation can also be produced in many different ways, such as paintings, flowers, bright furniture and coloured care home uniforms.

“In fact, bright colours can help with stimulating the minds of elderly people as they create many parallels with childhood. For instance, it has been proved that playing with brightly coloured balls has a positive effect on keeping the mind active. Bright and coloured jigsaws also contribute to mind stimulations, since the mental process required is a good brain exercise. Furthermore, elderly people can be often affected by a sense of loneliness which can be replaced by warmth and security through bright colours, starting right from care home uniforms.” said the team at Uniforms4Healthcare.

According to Atkinson (2004), white helps the mind to be open, clear and receptive. Red helps with blood pressure, cold hands and feet hypertension. Soft yellow helps tissue renewal and mental stimulation. Green helps energising the central nervous system. Turquoise helps with emotional anxiety or hyperactivity. Blue encourages rest and balances for over-activity.

For brain stimulating, opting for a coloured uniform could present your residents with a much more enjoyable experience over the course of their occupancy.

In conclusion, the use of uniforms in care homes can be a controversial topic, with it providing advantages as well as disadvantages (read our guest column for more detail on this). Whilst uniforms can promote a sense of professionalism, they also encourage unity amongst care teams and can contribute to a positive work culture and high levels of job satisfaction.

On the other hand, some argue that uniforms can be stigmatising for residents and can create power dynamic between them and staff, meaning some occupants may feel vulnerable and less empowered which can undermine their sense of dignity and autonomy.

Ultimately, the decision to use uniforms in care homes should be based on careful consideration of the potential benefits and drawbacks, and should take into account the unique needs and preferences of occupants. It is key to strike a balance between promoting professionalism and ensuring that residents are treated with dignity and respect.