Privacy and Possessions
From when the Hospital was opened in 1845, the patients' clothing was considered 'drab' and 'dreary'. Many patients were admitted with only the clothes that they were wearing. All patients, including those that could afford their own clothing, had their clothing taken from them and made to wear 'asylum clothes' which resembled those clothes worn in Workhouses. These dreary hospital clothes were regarded as unsatisfactory and from 1922 patients were allowed to retain their own personal clothing, where this was found to be clean and suitable if they or their relatives wished to do so. Incontinent patients’ personal dignity was extremely important, so where possible clean and attractive clothing was provided. All clothing was marked with the patient's name and ward and sent to the laundry, situated in the grounds of the hospital, to be washed and ironed. The patients that did not have their own clothing had theirs provided by the Hospital. Sometimes more than one patient could be seen with the same item of clothing on!
One of the main introductions was the appointment, in 1956, of a Hairdresser with a salon being provided along with it.
The British Red Cross Society supplied volunteers to carry out Beauty Therapy on the patients with the patients making a very small payment for both of these services.
Patients that earned their money by working in various departments within the hospital or some who had employment outside of the hospital, or those that came into the hospital with their own money, and were capable of looking after their money, could go to the Patients' Finance Office, with a form from the nurse in charge of the ward, and draw out the amount stated on the form. They were free to spend their money on whatever they wanted. The Women's Royal Voluntary Service (WRVS) shop inside the Hospital provided many items for the patients to buy. These items included food and drinks, toiletries, clothing, hobby items such as jigsaw puzzles, writing equipment, gifts, toys, books, etc. The patients could also take their visitors there for tea, coffee and cold drinks or just visit it themselves as a break from the ward.
Some patients would visit the local Pubs in the village or go the shops there and some were allowed to catch a bus into Exeter - some supervised, some by theirselves.