Hospital bosses in Lynn are appealing for help to get elderly patients moving along the road to recovery.
The plea is part of efforts by staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to tackle what is known as deconditioning syndrome, where people can lose the ability to do everyday tasks after long periods of inactivity.
Patients are now being encouraged to do things like get out of bed, get dressed and start moving where it is appropriate for them to do so.
Chief executive Dorothy Hosein said: “This hospital is on a mission to provide the highest possible standard of care for our patients, so it is unacceptable for any older person to lose the ability to do a simple everyday task.
“Our nursing teams are doing their utmost to ensure this doesn’t happen.
“But we can’t win this fight alone. We need the support of families and carers to ensure that our patients have a supply of clean clothes while they are in hospital.
“A simple thing such as getting dressed and sitting in a chair can make a big difference to a patient’s physical and mental wellbeing.”
The appeal follows the launch earlier this week of the hospital’s Red Bags initiative, where elderly residents of 16 of the region’s care homes will carry bags containing vital medical notes and personal belongings with them if they need to be admitted.
Officials believe the new pilot system will make handovers from paramedics to hospital staff more efficient and improve communication between the hospital and the homes.
Research suggests 10 days in bed can lead to 10 years of ageing in the muscles of people aged 80 or over, which could take even longer to recover.
As part of the programme, patients are being encouraged to eat their meals in a chair, instead of in bed, and wash and dress themselves.
The hospital says it is also working with social care and community health workers to ensure patients get the support they need when they are eventually discharged.
Director of nursing Emma Hardwick said: “By encouraging patients to wear their own clothes and get out of bed can have a tremendous impact.
“They will not only feel more comfortable but it will also help them to retain mobility and prepare them for going home.”