Fidget quilting to help comfort patients with cognitive disorders

SIOUX LOOKOUT, ON — Thoughtful staff at Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre (SLMHC) have worked diligently to stitch five hand-made quilts for residents of William “Bill” George Extended Care who are living with dementia or similar cognitive disorders.

A fidget quilt is a small lap blanket made with bright colours, textures, and add-ons such as zippers, tassels, belt buckles or novelties (tackle, jewels, etc.). Often, during later stages of dementia, people’s hands will fidget as though agitated or searching for something to hold. The person with dementia may pull on their clothing or bedding, or start rubbing their hands up and down. With a fidget quilt, the patient or resident has more meaningful and pleasant interaction which can help to improve mood, soothe agitation and stimulate the mind.

Left to Right: Kaitlin Negus (Diabetes Dietitian), Julie Makar (MHAP Counsellor), Sierra Hartnett (CCDC Social Worker), Rylee Blasky (CCDC Dietitian), Denise Wojciechowski (Chemo RN).  Not pictured are Cindy Dwyer (CCDC RN) and Lisa Seamark (MHAP RN).

Left to Right: Kaitlin Negus (Diabetes Dietitian), Julie Makar (MHAP Counsellor), Sierra Hartnett (CCDC Patient Navigator), Rylee Blasky (CCDC Dietitian), Denise Wojciechowski (Chemo RN).  Not pictured are Cindy Dwyer (CCDC RN) and Lisa Seamark (MHAP RN).

SLMHC’s Centre for Complex Diabetes Care (CCDC) team were interested in making fidget quilts because the they wanted to brighten patient and residents’ mood and provide a form of entertainment. CCDC Registered Nurse Cindy Dwyer, discovered the idea through the internet and brought it to the rest of the team’s attention. The hospital was very supportive of the idea.

In keeping with SLMHC’s mission of Caring for People, Embracing Diversity, and Respecting Different Pathways to Health, the CCDC team saw this as a great opportunity to provide additional comfort to the people in their care and do so in a creative and compassionate way.

CCDC Dietitian Rylee Blasky said, “It was a lot of fun to see how each quilter used their own patterns and themes to represent each recipient’s interests in the final product.” 

The CCDC team is thankful for everyone who contributed their ideas, materials and time to make these quilts. Most of the materials were recycled or donated. Signatures Signs and Stitchery was able to provide sew-on patches for each of the quilts. The patches are emblazed with the SLMHC logo and a space to write the recipient’s name. Each quilt will truly belong to the people who receive them.

“The patch gave the quilts a really polished look that we’re all really proud of,” said Blasky.

The fidget quilts were given to recipients at William “Bill” George Extended Care before Christmas and a number of staff at SLMHC have already expressed an interest in making more quilts in the future. 

Blasky said, “We are pleased that the Sioux Lookout Quilt Guild will also be working on making fidget quilts for more SLMHC and Extended Care patients and residents.”

The CCDC cares for people living with complex diabetes. The team provides interdisciplinary support to engage patients in better self-management of their chronic conditions, especially those with co-morbidities (renal failure, vascular disease, ongoing wounds, mental health, etc.). These often make diabetes more difficult to control so, the team is here to help.

The CCDC works as part of the Chronic Disease Prevention and Management Program at SLMHC. For information on SLMHC’s Chronic Disease and Prevention Management programs, please contact Bradley Lance at 737-3030.