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Kind nurse designs adult bibs that look like button-up shirts to help restore ‘dignity’ to those who use them

A kind nurse from Victoria, Australia, is helping adults and people with disabilities keep their dignity intact by making bibs that look like regular clothing.

As a nurse, Paige Meyer felt that putting childlike bibs on her patients to feed them can be humiliating, even though they don’t actually say it. That’s why she never liked the vinyl and cloth bibs commonly available in the market.

Paige also saw her grandmother deteriorate with dementia and emphysema, so she knows how hard it can be for families to see their loved ones struggling to avoid messy situations during meals. So, she decided to do something about it.

Having rekindled her passion for sewing during last year’s lockdown, Paige took on the challenge of creating 50 “dignity bibs” for every month of 2021. These bibs will be donated to local nursing homes and special schools.

“Dignity bibs are designed to protect clothing from mealtime mishaps while providing dignity by not looking like a bib,” she said in an interview with The Courier.

“Our dignity bibs are designed and made by a nurse to help ease of use by both consumer and nurse. As a nurse, my aim is to promote dignity to all of my patients, and I believe this is just one way I can help.”

Making bibs has become a family affair as her mom and younger sister assist her in creating them.

Paige said she saw a pattern for dignity bibs online, which she slightly altered. The design transforms button-up shirts into bibs that look like traditional clothing.

“It’s less confronting for the family as well because it looks like normal clothes,” she explained.

An Etsy shop called Fabric Greetings also makes dignity bib patterns. Upon purchase, a customer will receive a digital PDF file containing step-by-step instructions on creating their own dignity bibs.

The pattern’s creator said that she makes her bibs using denim shirts, regular oxford cloth, and flannel shirts, but other types of shirts should work, too.

“We all know some fellow who is reluctant to wear the needed bib at meal time. Now he can eat with dignity and no reluctance. This bib was designed for a friend who had that same problem. He now shows up to dinner with one of his dignity bibs in hand,” wrote Fabric Greetings on their Etsy page.

The shop allows its buyers to make these bibs from their pattern and sell them, as long as they give its designer credit. They also encourage these sellers to donate one bib to a local nursing home or senior center for every five pieces they sell.

Another great thing about dignity bibs is that they’re very easy to use. All you have to do is wrap it around the user’s neck and connect the straps with a Velcro strip.

It would be better if you make it with a pocketed shirt so that anyone wearing the bib can have somewhere to put their medicine, handkerchief, or silverware in.

A dignity bib is also easy to clean; you can just throw it into the wash like a regular piece of clothing.

Luckily, you don’t need to be an expert seamstress to create a dignity bib. You just need to have basic knowledge of sewing and sewing machine usage. Just keep in mind that you need one that can do both straight and zigzag stitching.

But if you have none of the above, you can always purchase ready-made bibs on Etsy.

Adult bibs shouldn’t be a source of embarrassment but a tool to protect people from making a mess during meal times. However, this doesn’t take away from the fact that some adults don’t like wearing them, especially when dining out with family and friends.

This creative solution offers the elderly and people with disabilities an alternative to the usual bibs on the market that can be a bit unsightly.

Here are some feedback from our community impacted by this story:

“I love this idea! I know my Mother had to be dressed when she went to the dining room. I know my Dad would have preferred something like this as well. Thanks for sharing. This should be sent to all nursing home facilities across the country because old people still want to feel like old times and look nice.” – Rita Walker

“What an amazing idea! One of the worst moments for me was seeing my father, a very proud man wearing a bib after entering an aged care facility. It broke me. Should be available in all ACFs.” – Karen Lee

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