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A cut above: one nurse’s pioneering hair and skincare project

ICU sister Ginny Wanjiro sources specialist combs and products to help patients from black and minority ethnic backgrounds ‘feel amazing’

ICU sister Ginny Wanjiro sources specialist combs and products to help patients from black and minority ethnic backgrounds ‘feel amazing’

A pioneering nurse is helping patients to look and feel ‘amazing’ by personalising their hair and skincare with products tailored to them.

Ginny Wanjiro, who has worked as an ICU sister at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust (GSTT) for ten years, told Nursing Standard she was inspired to start her project when she realised personal care items provided by the NHS, such as hair combs, did not work well for patients from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.

‘This project is really coming from my heart because I like to moisturise my skin, I like my

ICU sister Ginny Wanjiro sources specialist combs and products to help patients from black and minority ethnic backgrounds ‘feel amazing’

ICU sister Ginny Wanjiro with special combs for patients’ hair

A pioneering nurse is helping patients to look and feel ‘amazing’ by personalising their hair and skincare with products tailored to them.

Ginny Wanjiro, who has worked as an ICU sister at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust (GSTT) for ten years, told Nursing Standard she was inspired to start her project when she realised personal care items provided by the NHS, such as hair combs, did not work well for patients from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.

‘This project is really coming from my heart because I like to moisturise my skin, I like my hair to be beautiful,’ she said. ‘I want my patients to also feel amazing, especially when their relatives visit.’

‘It’s the little things that really count’

Ms Wanjiro recalled when she went home to Kenya after her father died and was worried about how he would look and how that might change how she would remember him.

‘When I got there, he looked amazing. He looked so young, he was shaven, his hair looked good,’ she said. ‘That is the face that always stays with me and that’s what I want to do for my patients’ relatives too. It’s those little things that really count.’

Ms Wanjiro displays specialist haircare products with her ICU colleagues

‘It was a real struggle to find the right equipment’

Speaking about what drove her to start the hair and skincare project, Ms Wanjiro said patients coming into ICU at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic ‘were not in good shape’ and the nursing team wanted to help them look and feel their best.

She said patients’ hair became mottled when they were lying down and nurses ended up cutting chunks away because it could not be combed through. Patients’ skin would become cracked and dry, but the moisturiser used in the ICU was prescribed by the pharmacy and often did not work with all skin types.

‘It was a real struggle to find the right equipment, especially for afro African hair. We do have a comb from the NHS, but it’s tiny and cannot go through this type of hair,’ she explained.

‘This is something that hit me really hard. Most of the nurses used to run down to local shops to buy better combs and moisturiser with our own money. We were doing this just to make sure our patients were feeling presentable when they spoke to their families.’

Nurse hopes other trusts will establish their own hair and skincare projects

After convincing the trust and its stakeholders to invest in better hair and skincare resources, Ms Wanjiro helped teach other nurses on the unit about proper care for afro-textured hair and skin.

‘All these years, the NHS catalogue has never had an afro African comb. It took time to get what we wanted, we had to source it externally. Eventually we managed to get it, and our patients are absolutely loving it,’ she said.

The project pilot will run at the trust’s ICU until the end of the year and Ms Wanjiro hopes it will be rolled out to other trusts.


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