Designing for Dignity: NEAT Sheets Napkins Are Changing the Way We Provide Care

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The Senior Living Industry has discussed the need for a culture change for over ten years, and yet in each new Care Home I’ve worked in there are certain aspects of the nursing home culture that remains persistent.

One of the first things I remember learning while working in a Care Home is that word choices matter.  Staff routinely referred to care items such as briefs or clothing protectors as diapers and bibs. There use in long-term care has been hard to break and why wouldn’t it? Since that is precisely what they look like!

There is a great need to design specifically for older adults, so when Heidi owner and designer of NEAT Sheets shared her product with the Upside to Aging I was beyond excited!  Not only did she design practical care items for seniors, but she did so in a way that preserves their dignity along with their clothes!

In opening the pack of NEAT sheets disposable napkins, I was immediately struck by the various patterns and even the material, which offer a whole new spin on the oversized terrycloth “bibs” we see in today’s care home. Too often, the residents who need feeding assistance are brought to the table and dressed with something that appears to be no more than a bib. This oversized terry cloth while humble in its function creates an image that focuses more on the persons lack capacity rather than their dining experience. NEAT Sheets modern and classic designs serve as a familiar hybrid: taking on the shape of a stylish napkin while maintaining the classic caregiving utility.


Designing for Dignity 

“Seeing her with a stain on her sweater was heartbreaking, but the idea of a bib was worse.”

The idea for NEATsheets came about after Heidi’s parents took a cross-country road trip. As a mother of three, the concept of a car napkin/bib immediately resonated. How many times had her kids spilled on themselves or her car? How many times had she spilled on herself and arrived at a school or work meeting sporting a coffee or yogurt stain? Once was too many.

But the real significance of NEATsheets was realized when her elegant, 97-year-old grandmother who always dressed meticulously started to lose some of her functions. Seeing her with a stain on her sweater was heartbreaking, but the idea of a bib was worse.


She decided to put her master’s degree in design to use in ways she never imagined. NEATsheets is easy-to-use, attractive and dignified so that everyone from her kids to her grandmother would see it as just, a better napkin. In partnership with her brother Greg, NEATsheets is changing how to keep it NEAT. Like her parents, she embarked on a journey, with high expectations, but also anticipating wrong turns, bad weather and of course that bump in the road when spills happen.

About The Owner

A serial entrepreneur with no plans of slowing down, Heidi Worcester started her woman-owned business NEATGOODS in her fifties. As a partner in a national furniture company, the author of a series of children’s books published by Harper Collins, as well as the founder of a men’s accessories company, Heidi has put her education from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design to use in many ways.

Also, she has been involved in several not-for-profit organizations focused on education. As Heidi’s children head off to college and beyond, she looks forward to directing her new found time to expand the NEATGOODS concept of creating exceptionally designed and appealing products for the growing senior population.

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2 thoughts on “Designing for Dignity: NEAT Sheets Napkins Are Changing the Way We Provide Care

  1. I like this idea! Some nursing homes have stopped using “bibs” due to dignity issues. But when they don’t use anything else, food spilling onto clothing is often unavoidable.
    In my mind, food on someone’s shirt is anything but dignified! Plus, when residents need to have their clothing changed right after a meal, it can lead to discomfort for people with impaired mobility.
    The NEATsheets seem like a good compromise.


    1. Thank you for your comment, Diane! I agree with you and have also struggled with the different ways nursing homes have tried to change the use of bibs. NEATSheets is the first that I’ve seen that focuses on the dining experience and not a persons need for assistance!


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