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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - 70 years of the NHS


Home > News > Get knitting to help patients with dementia

Get knitting to help patients with dementia

Posted on Thursday 30th April 2015

North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust is calling on the local community to get out their knitting needles and make a ‘twiddlemuff’ to help patients with dementia.

A twiddlemuff is a basic knitted hand muff with items such as buttons and flowers attached which a patient with dementia can twiddle in their hands. This simple item offers patients stimulation and can stop them causing themselves harm by taking out their cannula or scratching themselves, for example.

The scheme has proved successful at other hospitals around the country and has been well received during a trial on the elderly care wards at West Cumberland Hospital.

Now the Trust is calling on keen knitters to help create a steady supply of twiddlemuffs, or for the less creative, to donate any leftover or odd balls of wool.

Elderly care matron Christine Musgrave is leading the project at West Cumberland Hospital. She explained: “Patients with dementia require distractive techniques as they tend to pull at their cuffs or clothes, or can even harm themselves, scratching at their hands or pulling out cannulas delivering intravenous fluids. Twiddlemuffs have been proven to be an excellent way of distracting patients with dementia and keeping them calm, thereby allowing us to deliver safe, quality care.”

For infection prevention reasons, the twiddlemuffs are single use – that is, given to a patient to keep – therefore a steady supply is needed both at West Cumberland Hospital and the Cumberland Infirmary. The knitting pattern can be found online at

Please send any completed twiddlemuffs or any spare wool to:

Christine Musgrave, Elderly care matron, Kirkstone ward, West Cumberland Hospital, Hensingham, Whitehaven CA28 8JG

or Sheena Bleasdale,  Elderly care matron, c/o A&E, Cumberland Infirmary, Newtown Road, Carlisle CA2 7HY

Twiddlemuffs are just one of a range of measures put in place to improve care for patients with dementia in North Cumbria. The Trust has appointed ‘dementia champions’ from the nursing staff and implemented the national Butterfly Scheme, which means each relevant ward has a ‘butterfly box’ containing documentation to assist with improving care for patients with dementia or requiring memory support.