Great Ormond Street Hospital promoting reusable and sustainable period products
We were excited to learn about the use of reusable period products in Great Ormond Street Hospital, so wanted to find out more. We caught up with Jacqueline, who is an occupational therapist at the hospital to find out more.
Jacqueline is a Clinical Specialist Occupational Therapist, Acute Neuroscience, at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, NHS Foundation Trust.
Getting your first period in hospital
Imagine you are a young person in hospital for an operation and you have your first period. It’s scary and difficult to manage, you weren’t expecting it and you aren’t prepared. You hope that the hospital can offer you something…
Period pants as a solution
As occupational therapists, we problem solve with people to find easier ways to do what they want or need to do. Many young people in the hospital who we were seeing were not able to manage their periods with traditional disposable products due to poor hand function, understanding or mobility and so we started issuing and offering period pants as a solution This enabled anyone who could put on their pants to manage their own periods. The feedback we have had from families is great.
Realising this was a sustainability as well as disability issue, we have tried to expand this, having taken advice about the safety and suitability of reusable period products from medical professionals. – with education and information for families about other options including, menstrual cups, reusable pads etc. This information is now on the the website.
Periods and pre-admission
We use an electronic patient records system where we have added questions on the pre-admission checklist to ask the young person about their periods and what to expect when they are in the hospital. This means every child admitted over a certain age, is asked, and given information about the fact that anaesthetics can unexpectedly induce periods and directed to the website for information about sustainable products.
Shortened information sheets have been printed out and put in all toilets around the hospital. These have received good feedback as well from a variety of sources, particularly the LGBTQ+ group who appreciated the inclusive language used.
Impact of these changes
The impact so far has been significant for families and young people and we hope to introduce to staff.
- Reduces disposable protection – less plastic produced
- Empowers young people and supports parents
- Decreases waste – reduced cost for NHS
- Reduced number of blocked toilets and bins
- Lifelong benefits
Sustainable period products as a mainstream solution
Talking to everyone about sustainable products; public health bodies, health professionals and parents we hope to establish this as a mainstream solution. I am working with the Royal College of Occupational Therapy to increase the understanding and share information as normal practice.
Monitoring and gathering data via a questionnaire, we hope to make a case for period pants in all health settings and to amplify the understanding that use of reusable rather than disposable products has a significant economic advantage, promotes independence and dignity as well as important benefits in terms of sustainability.