Sensory blankets – or comfort blankets – provide a wonderful source of visual, tactile and sensory stimulation for those with dementia or sight impairments. They are small pieces of fabric with additional items stitched on, with different shapes and textures.
Pam Trangmar, a physician’s associate working on the Newdigate Ward, explained: “People with dementia often have restless hands and like to have something to keep themselves occupied. When I first started work on the ward, I noticed that a high number of our guests, who are mainly elderly, found their change of environment very distressing. A nursing colleague recommended comfort blankets and I asked my mother, who used to be Aylesford & Eccles WI president, whether some of her WI wanted to help make some. They made some gorgeous ones, and our guests are enjoying them greatly.”
Mary Barton, a patient with some sight impairment on Woodland ward, said: “I really like my comfort blanket, the different patterns and pictures – it’s lovely to touch and makes me feel very calm.”
Michael Wilson, Chief Executive of Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, said “I’ve seen first-hand how our patients with dementia and sight impairments have felt comforted by these blankets. We are very grateful for the skill and time that the ladies of the Aylesford & Eccles Women’s Institute have provided to make these.”
Other WIs around the country have been doing similar activities, such as Jevington and Filching WI (below) in East Sussex. They made 40 of these “Twiddlemuffs” for residents living in dementia care homes in their area.
Ansdell and Fairhaven WI (Lancashire) also got involved and made 100 as part of their Centenary Projects. They have more information about the project on their website here: http://ansdellwi.weebly.com/
If you and your WI would like to get involved, please get in touch with your local hospital and suggest the idea to them.