Fidget quilts, also called touchy quilts, are used to reduce agitation for patients suffering from dementia. This year, the Busy Hands group at Bethel Christian Reformed Church in Brockville, Ont., made and delivered 23 fidget quilts to Perley and Rideau Veteran’s Health Centre in Ottawa, Ont. The quilts are made of many different textured fabrics and have embellishments such as pockets, zippers, and lace, all of which enable patients to focus their hands and minds through sensory stimulation.
Perley and Rideau Veteran’s Health Centre, which serves over 250 veteran residents and 200 community residents, is one of the largest senior care centers in Ontario. It is respected as a leader in treatment programs for patients with dementia.
Perley Rideau uses fidget quilts as part of its treatment program, but with many dementia patients sharing quilts, they needed more. The Busy Hands group at Bethel agreed to take on the project. “These special quilts help calm patients with dementia, just like the activity mats used for young children,” said Delphine Hasle, development officer at Perley Rideau.
“[The quilts] are pretty easy to make. If you can sew a straight line, you can make one of these quilts,” said Maggie Sportel, a member of Busy Hands. They held a fundraiser to purchase four more sewing machines and received donations of materials from congregation members and textile shops. The group began sewing the quilts in January and delivered 23 completed quilts to Perley Rideau in May.
“They were very thankful for the quilts. It’s better than using medication to help those who are agitated,” said Busy Hands member Hinke Weima.
Members of Busy Hands have been sewing together for over seven years. They’ve made quilts for church members moving into nursing homes, milk bag mats for Haiti, items for the Canadian Aid for Chernobyl program, baby clothing, and prayer shawls.