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University students create 'twiddle mitts' for dementia patients

11-Mar-16
Article By: Ellie Spanswick, News Editor

Third year students at Bournemouth University (BU) have been making ‘twiddle mitts’ for patients living with dementia at The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (RBCH).

The team of students includes: adult nurses, midwives, a mental health nurse and an occupational therapist. They are working on the ‘twiddle mitts’ as part of a study project to challenge students to make improvements to their local health service.

Bournemouth University students and their 'twiddle-mitts'

‘Twiddle mitts’ are knitted mittens or hand warmers with beats, buttons and other objects sewn on to them. The mitts are popular gifts for people living with dementia as they provide people with something to ‘twiddle’ to help calm agitation and restlessness, which are both common symptoms of the condition.

Student adult nurse, Michele Miles is taking part in the project, she said: “I found out about twiddle mitts by chance when my mum was knitting one. After doing my own research into them, I discovered how they can vastly improve the mood of people living with dementia, so I suggested we use them as the focus of our improvement project.”

RBCH dementia nurse specialist, Rachael Davies commented: “At our Trust we see many patients a year who are already living with dementia, but will come in for acute physical health problems. We aim to make their stay as comfortable as possible, especially as an unfamiliar hospital environment can worsen symptoms of anxiety.

“We were really excited to hear from Michele’s BU student group, as it’s been shown the twiddle mitts can really reduce stress levels for patients with cognitive difficulties. It’s also a fantastic way to support learning, work inter-professionally and pool resources for the benefit of our patients.”

Each patient that receives a twiddle mitt and can take it home with them after they leave hospital to prevent the risk of infection. This means the twiddle mitts are in constant demand, so both Bournemouth University and RBCH are encouraging knitters to pick up their needs to support the cause.

Rachael added: “Although the single use policy is partly owing to infection control policies, it also means our patients get to take twiddle mitts home and receive the benefits from them long after leaving our care. We urge people to get knitting and help us to make this project a sustainable success.”

Twiddle mitts can be dropped off at Bournemouth University’s Lansdowne Campus and placed in a designated box in Royal Bournemouth Hospital’s Atrium or posted through the letter box of Bournemouth Hospital’s charity office.

For a free knitting pattern, knitters can email: communications@rbch.nhs.uk or visit the RBCH Facebook page.

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