Lymphoedema Lead visits compression hosiery factory in Germany

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Female standing in front of a red structure inside a factory

Patients who visit the Lymphoedema Service at the Charity will be very familiar with the team and Lymphoedema Team Lead, Tracy Hancock. They are always interested in learning more about Lymphoedema, to pass on their learnings to patients who visit the Hospice.

So, when Tracy was invited to visit one of the compression hosiery companies, in Germany, that the Lymphoedema Services uses – to find out more about how the hosiery can benefit patients, she accepted straight away.

Tracy kindly shares her experience:

“I was lucky enough to be invited on an Educational Trip to one of the compression hosiery companies the Lymphoedema Service uses, in Germany in April of this year. I thought it would be an interesting trip to tell you about it.

The company started in the 1920’s, before this point people wore items to ‘hold’ their stockings up – this was the first company to make elasticated stockings which ‘held-up’. In the 1950’s in Germany, if the factory was situated in East Germany, it was government controlled. So, the two cousins who started the company literally took apart a knitting machine and took it over to the West side of Germany- to the town of Bayreuth in Bavaria,  where the company is still situated.

They knew how to make ‘elastic stockings’- then it was discovered these stockings were helping some medical conditions- this was purely by accident. The products developed into the compression hosiery we in the Lymphoedema Clinic [at the Hospice] use today to support our patients with Lymphoedema and Lipoedema.

Large glass building amongst a blue sky

It was fascinating to see the scale of the factory- there were 1,800 employees in the factory- and there are now 24 International branches, but still a ‘family-feel’ about the business.

There were lots of interesting facts:

  • One person’s job was literally to make closed toe stockings into open toe stockings- and they are expected to do 6,000 stockings a day!
  • Employees make intricate work of making compression gloves for hands and toes – sowing six, by hand, an hour.
  • In the factory, from customer order to dispatch takes 20 minutes per garment- and garments had 27 check points throughout that manufacturing journey to ensure they were to the highest standard and correct for each patient.
  • One stocking takes 10,000 meters of yarn!
  • The factory keeps a patient’s history for 10 years – so they can see a patient’s unique made-to-measure history.

Thread a machine

As well as my factory tour, there were lectures with reference to correct measuring for compression and lots of tips I will be able to pass onto my team and patients.

I also made priceless links with other Lymphoedema practitioners from throughout the UK, as there were 20 of us on the trip. I am already using my new knowledge to enhance patient care within the Lymphoedema Service.”

To find out more about the Lymphoedema Service at Arthur Rank Hospice Charity, and to access supportive videos about how to take on and off compression stockings, please visit the webpage:

If you have any old compression hosiery you no longer use, please drop them off at the Hospice or any of our shops and we will recycle them for you.