New shampoo and conditioner choices for hospitalized patients support diverse hair types. (For Corewell Health Beat)

While hospitalized, feeling clean and well-cared for brings comfort for many patients.

And keeping up a hair care routine often helps patients feel better during a hospital stay.

The DEI team at Corewell Health took note, and seeks to help more patients access the hair care supplies they need during a stay.

DEI stands for diversity, equity and inclusion, and applies to policies and programs that promote the representation and participation of different groups of individuals.

This encompasses people of different ages, races, ethnicities, abilities, disabilities, genders, religions, cultures and sexual orientations.

‘Health equity includes hair care’

The DEI team took a look at the problem of not having diverse hair care products available for different hair types and textures for patients receiving care at Corewell Health and initiated a hair product trial program.

“The Urban Hydration Product Trial has been a collaborative effort of our DEI team, value analysis procurement, nursing leaders from Corewell Health (in the) West and South, and our Nursing DEI Council,” Phallon LoveLady, DNP, manager of Community Health Programs for Corewell Health’s Healthier Communities said.

“Hair care may seem like a minor thing for some, but small changes like offering diverse hair care products can have significant impacts on patient well-being,” LoveLady said.

Patients are hospitalized for short-term stays to extended stays. Some come in for emergencies and end up staying for an unanticipated longer period, she said.

“The ability and access to diverse hair products like shampoo and conditioner to better hydrate and moisturize hair over the length of their stay is important,” LoveLady said.

To meet that need, the team added Urban Hydration Honey Health & Repair Haircare Collection shampoo and conditioner to hair care selections available to patients.

“That means we now have more than just one shampoo product to offer,” LoveLady said. “And the supplier we chose for this trial is also from a diverse background.”

Patients with coarser, thicker, curly hair can choose a hydrating shampoo and conditioner that will hydrate and protect their hair and not strip it of its natural oils, LoveLady said.

Research shows that when comfort and a sense of well-being is increased for patients, the process of healing can show improvement, too, she said.

What’s next

“I am proud that our organization is starting to think about how health equity includes hair care and how we are now moving toward implementation,” said LoveLady. “We still have a long way to go.”

She said the team is working to source additional supplies, including wide-tooth combs, brushes, bonnets, non-scented and plant-based options, and styling products, to serve to a variety of patient hair types.

LoveLady says that she is optimistic about the direction the organization is moving.

“I am optimistic that we will continue to be curious and courageous while we gain clarity, and that we will be collaborative and show compassion in our pursuit of improving health, instilling humanity and inspiring hope—even in the hair care that we provide,” she says.