Dressed with dignity: the provision of clothing for patients being discharged from hospital

Miss Siobhan Feely1, Ms Anna Tasevska1

1The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Parkville , Australia


Patient’s having no clothes to wear on discharge from hospital is an issue that often arises on the day of discharge and referrals are made to social work to resolve this issue. The Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) Social Work Department operates a clothing program for patients funded by the hospital volunteer service.

Aim: To explore the circumstances in which RMH patients require clothing and the impact of this on funding, discharge planning and respect for patient dignity.

Method: Literature review; recording of clothing provided to patients; calculation of the cost of clothing; benchmarking through semi-structured phone interviews with other hospitals; and file audits.

Results: In 2016 clothing was provided to 74 patients at a cost of $1243. Benchmarking highlighted all 18 hospitals contacted encountered situations where patients require clothing. Clothing was commonly required due to patients clothing being removed in the emergency department and  homelessness, consistent with findings from RMH file audits. File audits found that most common reason patients required clothing was for discharge home, followed by rehab or GEM, to go outside for a cigarette and other.

Significance of the findings to allied health: To date this common but often hidden issue faced by some of the most vulnerable patients has not been evidenced in published peer-reviewed literature. This novel project provides evidence that supports the requirement for a hospital clothing program, its funding and increased identification and awareness of this consumer need.


Anna Tasevska is a senior social worker at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. Anna is a team leader and social worker for the cardiothoracic unit. Anna holds a Master of Social Work. Siobhan Feely is a social worker for the orthopaedic and trauma units at RMH and recently completed a Master of Public Health and Monash University.