Cosy and colourful donations from a generous family are helping patients with dementia keep their minds and hands active while in hospital.
Twiddle (or sensory) muffs, blankets and boards are knitted or crocheted items or wooden boards with sensory material attached. The sensory materials could include buttons, zips, locks, soft toys or anything that can be safely ‘twiddled’ with.
For more than a year, The Royal Melbourne Hospital’s Acute Medical Unit has been providing twiddle muffs and blankets for dementia patients on the unit to provide a calming focus for restless hands and busy minds.
The idea was initiated by the parents of The Royal Melbourne Hospital's Dr Mya Cubitt, who have been regularly making and donating the muffs and blankets to the Acute Medical Unit. Dr Cubitt’s mother, Sandra, knits and crochets them, while Dr Cubitt’s father, Paul, collects items that can be attached.
The Cubitt family drew inspiration from their personal connection with dementia – Dr Cubitt’s grandfather passed away after suffering with early onset dementia for many years.
“My mum first heard about twiddle blankets on a radio show and was inspired by the idea and her personal link to dementia,” Dr Cubitt said.
Dr Cubitt, a physician in the Acute Medical Unit and Emergency Department, said the feedback from patients, families and staff about the twiddle muffs and blankets has been overwhelmingly positive.
“The patients love them – it’s particularly great for those who are used to doing things with their hands,” she said.
“It really helps to distract them and keep their mind occupied.”
“And their families are really grateful to have something a bit more personal for their loved one during their stay in hospital.”
Photo: Lisa Harvey (Acute Medical Unit Nurse Unit Manager), Sandra Cubitt, Dr Mya Cubitt and Dr Peter Lange (Consultant Geriatrician and Acute Medical Unit Head of Unit).