Tassie nurse to change the lives of people with disabilities!

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28th November 2010, 02:31am - Views: 1869

As a nurse I worked with many people with disabilities and saw a big need when it came to clothing said Jane Thomasson, founder of Errine Pty Ltd.

If a person cant move say an arm or a shoulder its a real struggle for them to get dressed, and I noticed a lot of patients with loss of mobility all wearing the same clothes, which were usually oversized or baggy because they were easier to get on, that does nothing for peoples dignity or self esteem - imagine having to either face pain every day or look like everybody else in the ward in dull baggy clothes.

For people who for e.g. have had a stroke and are paralysed down one side, have arthritis and cant bend their arms, or a spinal injury, getting dressed every day is a task that can cause dread and agitation, and in some cases skin tears when skin drags against the garment.

I think its pretty appalling that no one has thought to provide disability clothing on a large scale in Australia. With the ageing population and people living to older ages with new treatments, the number of people living with physical disabilities and dementia is on the increase and is only going to get higher over the next few decades when baby boomers reach old age. Not even the big department stores or fashion giants provide clothing for people with disabilities, so, I decided something had to be done about it and I now design and manufacture adaptive clothing myself.

Im really passionate about this because as a nurse I use to hate having to dress someone when I knew it was going to hurt them, or be a struggle for both of us, I dreaded it, but the patients never complained and just put up with it. It felt like they just accepted this is the way things are, but there was sadness about them, it was like they had just given up all hope really.
I picture myself old and disabled and think what Id like to wear, and thats the basis I start with when designing the clothes.

The most important thing is the clothes are easy to get on and off with no struggling or pain involved, second is for the clothes to not stand out as different, so the closures are fairly hidden and look just like regular clothes in styles appropriate to the age group. Third is dignity, if I wouldnt wear it why would anyone else, so the clothes are stylish for people to be happy to be seen in them. Fourth is comfort for people sitting for long periods, theyre designed slightly different to regular clothing so theyre comfortable in the belly, groin and other areas, and allow plenty of room for things such as toileting or accessing catheter bags.

Lastly, they have to be affordable, any type of specialist clothing is typically expensive but that doesnt make sense for people if they are already struggling on a pension, which is why Ive gone to large scale commercial production to help keep the costs down. Ive also met with Andrew Wilkie MP and Richard Cooper of Alzheimers Tasmania, who both support my idea that the clothing should be GST free. Mr Wilkie has taken the matter to parliament in the hope a bill will be submitted to apply for a GST exemption for disability clothing.

Ive started with a small range of adaptive clothing for the elderly first under Errine Adaptive Clothing, and my plans for the company are to provide other types of disability clothing other than adaptive, and designs for younger people with disabilities, under different labels. Its a huge goal but its doable and its already started with the first range available online to the general public, and one day I hope to see it available in department stores so everyone has easy access to the clothes.

I have been told that this is more than a business that its also providing a community service, and I suppose it is really, and I just cant wait to see it making a difference to so many peoples lives every day.

Founded in 2010, Errine Adaptive Clothing designs and manufactures clothing for seniors with disabilities to enable easier dressing; more information about their garments can be found at www.errine.com.au.
03 62720426


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