Kenyan Nurse Beautifying Ethnic Minority Group Patients in UK

  • Wanjiro
    Ginny Wanjiro at St Thomas’ Hospital holding combs used to beautify patients.
    The Irish News
  • Ginny Wanjiro, a Kenyan nurse at St Thomas’ Hospital in the UK founded an initiative to take care of the appearance of patients from ethnic minority groups in the intensive care unit (ICU).

    The nurse who had lived in the UK for thirty years, combed her patients’ hair and moisturised their skin to ensure that their hair is not cut during procedures because of extreme entanglement.

    Troubled by the huge number of patients from other ethnic minority groups arriving in the ward with their hair or skin in very poor condition, Wanjiro decided to buy combs and help them maintain a good appearance.

    Ginny Wanjiro and other nurses at St Thomas’ Hospital holding combs used to beautify patients.
    Instagram/NHS London

    She also noted that many of the patients who were black women, could not comb their hair because the hospital provided only plastic combs that could not detangle afro hair.

     “Most of the time, we were running downstairs to buy the combs and brushes,” Wanjiro stated in an interview with St Thomas’ Hospital.

    The nurse launched a three-month trial programme training 20 nurses with more joining, to look after the hair of around 250 patients.

    “The nursing staff are trained how to care for different hair textures and skin colours, then look after patients with an appropriate comb.”

    “Patients get to keep the combs once they leave the intensive care unit,” Wanjiro stated speaking to St Thomas’ Hospital.

    The nurse started the project during the pandemic after looking after very sick patients in the wards.

    "Yes, they were sick, but apart from that, they were in terrible shape. Because the hair was knotted, we had to cut a lot of it.”

    “ Although we saved lives, we felt we caused some collateral damage by cutting people's hair,” Wanjiro explained.

    Remembering how well her father looked before he passed away in  Kenya, Wanjiro resolved to make sure that her patients looked presentable 

    “Anytime could have been the last moments the patients had with their families. That made me want to work even harder to make sure their faces looked beautiful. Keeping spirits up is particularly important on the ICU ward,” Wanjiro added.

    Hair and skincare training in the hospital took place on an informal basis, with knowledge passed from nurse to nurse.

    The three-month programme had more nurses joining daily.

    Wanjiro's concern for the sick mirrors that of a nurse trainee Lukresia Robai, whose videos dancing for a hospital went viral in November, 2022.

    Wanjiro 3
    Ginny Wanjiro at St Thomas’ Hospital holding combs used to beautify patients.
    The Irish News