Bournemouth University (BU) third year students are making ‘twiddle mitts’ for patients living with dementia at The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (RBCH).
‘Twiddle mitts’ are knitted mittens or hand warmers with beads, buttons and objects sewn on to them. The mitts are becoming popular gifts for those living with dementia, as having something to ‘twiddle’ helps to calm agitation and restlessness – both common symptoms of the condition.
The BU team, which includes adult nurses, midwives, a mental health nurse and an occupational therapist, are working on the ‘twiddle mitts’ as part of a study project challenging students to make an improvement to a local health service.
Michele Miles, student adult nurse taking part in the project, said: “I found out about twiddle mitts by chance when my mum was knitting one. After doing my own research into twiddle mitts, 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.”
Rachael Davies, RBCH dementia nurse specialist, said: “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.”
To avoid any risk of infection, each patient receives their own twiddle mitt and can take it home with them after they leave hospital. This means the twiddle mitts are in constant demand, so both BU and RBCH are encouraging natty knitters to pick up their needles to support the cause.
Rachael explained: “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 BU’s Lansdowne Campus, placed in a designated box in Royal Bournemouth Hospital’s Atrium or posted through the letter box of Bournemouth Hospital’s Charity office.