A change of clothes can change everything for vulnerable patients

WADS Manager Kerri Felemonow (pictured with donations of clothing from Cotton On) says women who access the service require a high level of case coordination and care, and providing basic necessities is part of that.
14 June 2022 | Fundraising | Your impact

Donations of everyday items bring comfort and dignity to patients accessing the Women’s Alcohol and Drug Service (WADS).

Imagine being admitted to hospital with nothing but the clothes on your back. This can often be the case for women who come into the care of the Women’s Alcohol and Drug Service, says WADS Manager Kerri Felemonow.

Patients who need this specialist care might be going into labour or admitted for pregnancy care. They also have complex substance dependence.

“These patients don’t always have personal items with them, particularly if they’re homeless. And sometimes they don’t have supportive people around them to bring them in a change of clothes, toiletries and so on,” Kerri explains.

“If you’re coming to the hospital for a week or you’ve just delivered a baby and you’ve only got the clothes you’re wearing, you’re going to be uncomfortable, and there might be a level of shame or embarrassment when you don’t have things at your disposal that meet your general needs.”

Thanks to donations from the community, WADS can provide these patients with basic necessities – and dignity.

Providing wrap-around care

About 90 patients a year access the Women’s Alcohol and Drug Service, although this number is growing for a number of complex reasons. 

When a pregnant woman comes to the Women’s with drug and alcohol issues they are always experiencing several other challenges. They are put under the care of a midwife and a social worker who work together to provide support and care that take in all aspects of a woman’s situation and needs.  

The midwife coordinates their medical care while the social worker assists the woman with psychosocial issues they may be facing, such as family violence, child protection, insecure housing or homelessness.

This can include linking patients with other services provided by the Women’s or other organisations that will support them once they leave the hospital. It can also be something as simple as finding them a toothbrush and a clean pair of clothes.

Donations making a difference

This is where recent donations from organisations such as Cotton On, which donated hundreds of packs of clothing and underwear, and regular donations from other organisations of personal care items and toiletries can make a huge difference.

“If you’re worrying about finding a pair of undies for a patient, you will spend less time doing critical work, like trying to locate an external service where the woman can access more support or working through her issues, such as developing a safety plan around family violence,” Kerri says.

“To have immediate access to these items and to be able to give our patients something new makes them feel more dignified and comfortable straight away.

“The women are quite overwhelmed. They don’t often get nice gifts, so they really appreciate the care pack they get when they come to the Women’s.”

The Cotton On donation was shared across other services provided by the Women’s, including the Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA House),  social work and the Cornelia Program, which provides support for pregnant women who are experiencing homelessness or insecure housing.

“We want to provide people with exceptional care,” Kerri says. “Donations like this can assist with that.”

Make a donation to the Women’s or find out more about ways your organisation or community group can get involved.