Dementia residents get some help from our 'Purly Queens' of social care on World Mental Health Day

‘Purly’ queens of social work and occupational therapy have been busy showing off their nifty knitting skills to help Oxfordshire residents with dementia.

Oxfordshire County Council’s City Rapid Response team, which works to protect and safeguard the vulnerable in Oxford, has been on a mission over the past year to make ‘Twiddle Muffs’ - woollen creations that keep the restless hands of dementia patients active.

The muffs contain strands of textured ribbons, beads, buttons and various fabrics that provide visual and tactile stimulation, ease agitation and reduce anxiety.

In Oxfordshire, around 9,000 people have been diagnosed with dementia – 1,410 in Oxford – and these numbers are predicted to top 10,000 and 1,500 respectively by 2020.

The Rapid Response team has made more than 30 creations which have been delivered to several care homes, including Isis Care Home in Iffley and MHA Brookfield Care Home in Blackbird Leys. 

Team manager Tanya Hillier encouraged her team to get knitting to engage in the community more and help others - and it fast became a competition to see who could be the most creative with their knitting and sewing skills!

She is delighted with feedback about the team’s donations and has pledged to make more to distribute across the city. Some will be delivered to Longlands Care Home in Greater Leys later this week.

She said: “It’s has been so heart-warming and gratifying to know we are making such a difference to people’s lives, when they are feeling so confused and agitated because of this terrible condition.

“Twiddle Muffs have such a calming effect – one gentleman stopped waving his arms in the air and became much more relaxed. And one anxious lady who had been grabbing at the tablecloth stopped and started to use the one we gave her.”

Lidia Chrabaszcz, Deputy Manager at MHA Brookfield Care Home, said: "I think it is fantastic that as a community we recognise the challenges that people living with dementia face, especially today which is World Mental Health Day.

"Twiddle muffs particularly in a care home setting can provide residents with a feeling of security and warmth, but also the varying textures create interest and therefore brain stimulation. They help ease residents who may become upset or anxious and calm their mood.

"MHA Brookfield would like to say thank you to the Purly Queens for helping our residents with their natty Twiddle Muffs."

And Karen Fuller, Oxfordshire County Council’s Deputy Director of Adults Social Care said: "Our social workers and occupational therapists always show compassion and care, but I am so proud that the team members have decided to use their spare time in such a useful and practical way which is making such a difference to those with dementia."

If you would like to make Twiddle Muffs for people with dementia you can download a step by step guide here https://bit.ly/2E1z6oR



MAIN PICTURE CAPTION: Brookfield Care Home residents Betty Scoones and David Fox try out some of the donations with social workers Rebecca Siddall and Nita Blanks and deputy care home manager Lidia Chrabaszcz 

INSET CAPTION: Ruth Griffiths and Sue Giles (inset) from City Rapid Response with the Twiddle Muffs created by the team for people living with dementia