University expertise transforms Manchester City kits into children’s hospital gowns

29 April 2021

Staff and students design gowns for Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital from shirts donated by club



Innovative new hospital gowns created from Manchester City FC shirts and designed by Manchester Fashion Institute staff and students have been donated to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, aiming to help, support and improve the experience for children undergoing treatment and care.

As part of a new pilot project developed over the last 12 months in collaboration with the hospital, Manchester Fashion Institute at Manchester Metropolitan University and Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS), the gowns have been designed, created and donated to help support children in hospital and allow them to feel like their on-field heroes as they battle some of the toughest moments of their lives.

Following initial discussions between Manchester City and Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity last year to discover ways to improve hospital visits and stays for children, the club joined forces with the Fashion Institute and HMPPS to bring the project and the gowns to life.

Students, academics and technical staff from the Manchester Fashion Institute and Departments of Nursing and Psychology worked alongside hospital staff and the families of some of the hospital’s young patients to research, develop and deliver the new designs that will see Manchester City shirts turned into gowns that are easy to use, more comfortable for patients and meet clinical standards for use in a hospital.

Prototype gown samples were developed and tested with the textile teams at HMPPS, who manufactured the gowns for the project, which have now been donated for use within the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.  

Professor Liz Barnes, Head of Manchester Fashion Institute at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “We were delighted to work alongside Manchester City and the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, and are proud of the work that Manchester Fashion Institute academics, students and technical services staff have produced to deliver this innovative design solution for children’s hospital gowns.

Hospital gowns are never the most comfortable or fashionable. These City gowns will give patients one less thing to worry about during times of stress when they may be feeling very daunted.

“The team at the Fashion Institute have considered the needs of patients, clinicians and garment manufacturers to design a gown that is easy to produce and use, and exciting for young football fans as they are cared for in hospital. We look forward to seeing them in use for years to come.”

The project at Manchester Metropolitan involved Barbara Shepherd and Sarah Collins from Manchester Fashion Institute, as well as Professor Marc Jones and Dr Michelle Croston from the Faculty of Health Psychology and Social Care, alongside Manchester Fashion Institute technicians and four second-year Fashion Design Technology students.

They were tasked to take a collaborative approach to research, design and develop a children’s hospital gown using existing football shirts which will help reduce stress and give children the courage to go through their hospital treatment.

Students took part in virtual co-design workshops with NHS clinicians and parents, conducted researching into how sportswear has been utilised in different healthcare settings, and presented their research to stakeholders. Following feedback from patients, a final prototype and a manufacturing technical pack were produced to allow the gowns to be made in bulk.

Student Simone James said: “Before this experience, I’d never imagined being part of a project of such significance so early on in my design career. This opportunity has opened countless doors for me, but more importantly it has the potential to positively change the hospital experience of numerous children."

Thomas Jacopo Burr, a participating student, said: “Collaboration, upcycling, and football all crossed over into one project that was for an amazing cause. On top of this using our design skills in a new context to make meaningful change to people's lives and experiences was something I felt strongly about.”

Danny Wilson, Managing Director – Manchester City Operations, said: “Manchester City are delighted to be part of this collaborative new pilot project which will provide children at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital the option to wear their City blue colours whilst in hospital.

“If we can make even a small difference to their experience through the donation of these gowns, we’ll be extremely proud and I’d like to thank the hospital, Manchester Fashion Institute at Manchester Metropolitan and HMPPS, as well as our partner PUMA, for their cooperation, effort and work over the last year to turn this idea into a reality.”

Cath Doherty, Consultant Paediatric Anaesthetist at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, said: “Surgery can be a tough time for a young patient so anything that can help put their mind at ease is welcomed.

“We care for lots of young children and teenagers who are Manchester City fans so we’re sure they’ll enjoy wearing the shirts. We can’t wait to see their faces when we show them what they can wear for theatre.”

The team at the Fashion Institute have considered the needs of patients, clinicians and garment manufacturers to design a gown that is easy to produce and use, and exciting for young football fans as they are cared for in hospital. We look forward to seeing them in use for years to come.

Teenager Declan McEntee is a Manchester City supporter and has had numerous surgeries at the hospital. He is also an avid fundraiser for Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity. He said: “City have always been big supporters of the Charity and they’ve made a big difference to the hospital over the years.

“Hospital gowns are never the most comfortable or fashionable. These City gowns will give patients one less thing to worry about during times of stress when they may be feeling very daunted.”

Jason Swettenham, Head of Prison Industries, Catering, Retail and PE at HMPPS said: “We have a strong relationship with the Manchester Fashion Institute at Manchester Metropolitan University and have recently manufactured scrubs during the Covid-19 epidemic for front-line NHS workers. Engagement in initiatives such as this, for the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, allows offenders an opportunity to offer reparation and support the most vulnerable in the community.”

The garments will be trialled in the hospital, and evaluated by patients and their parents in terms of comfort, fit and how it meets clinical needs, and its impact on the mental wellbeing of patients.

A final report will be produced by University researchers examining the effectiveness of the technical design of the gown and how it helps young hospital patients, with recommendations for wider use.

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