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PAH Volunteers Threads of Kindness

12 December 2023

Since 2015, the Clothing for Kindness program run by volunteers at PA Hospital has been offering dignity to thousands of PA patients arriving in hospital after an unplanned admission who are far from the support networks of home.  

Volunteers Jan and Dawn have threaded together the donations and allocated clothing since the start with a humble trolley outside the emergency department. 

“Coming to hospital can be challenging and scary where circumstances have changed quickly. What started as an ordinary appointment could become an emergency admission and all you have are the clothes on your back,” said Dawn.

“Some patients come in alone and struggle with processing their medical journey.  We try to give them a sense of respect and empowerment with the ability to choose and change their clothes.

“At the end of their stay, patients need clothes to be able to leave the hospital so having this service means that we can help get people home quicker and free up more beds.”

Jan and Dawn's journey began more than a decade ago evolving from sewing and serving tea and coffee, to their current role as coordinators of the clothing program. 

Jan says the history of the clothing regularly enriches their work. 

“Especially those contributing from deceased estates, you can feel the history of a person in the type of clothing that has been donated and how well it has been looked after.

“You can feel when handling these clothes that they belonged to someone special, and now these clothes get a second chance and help a person in need.”

The "Clothing for Kindness" program offers patients comfortable clothing that goes beyond the standard hospital gown. The team go the extra mile to ensure that patients feel human and respected, regardless of their medical condition. They've provided cozy dressing gowns, rugs for comfort, and their latest passion - fiddle blankets for patients with dementia or delirium.

“I remember a gentleman in ICU who became agitated. The nurses in ICU asked for help with a distraction, something to help calm him down and so I made a special pillow cover for him. With something new to focus on staff could reduce restraints and get through the rest of his treatment.”

Jan and Dawn have been touched by the stories and connections they've formed with patients and hospital staff. Their dedication to making a positive impact is inspiring and earned them public recognition as a finalist in the MSH staff awards.

Their work and the program’s success at PAH is a reminder of the tremendous impact that can be achieved through kindness and a desire to make the world a better place, one garment at a time.

If you would like to donate to the Clothing for Kindness program, the team are looking for unisex clothing in all sizes. They especially would like men’s t-shirts in plus size or elastic waisted pants. Donations can be delivered to the PAH Volunteer Services Unit on Ground Floor Building 15 or you can contact PAHVolunteerServicesUnit@health.qld.gov.au 

Last updated 14 December 2023
Last reviewed 12 December 2023

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