Hospital inundated with twiddle muffs after thieves target patients with dementia

NHS staff have been inundated with “twiddle muffs” after thieves targeted a fracture clinic supporting people with dementia.

Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust was forced to step up security patrols last month after thieves stole “twiddle muffs” and a “twiddle pillow”, donated to the clinic to help patients with dementia tackle anxiety during their treatment.

Now, clinic staff have received replacements from all over the country after word spread about the theft.

Nicola Day, sister in charge of the fracture clinic at Hull Royal Infirmary, said: “We have been so touched by the response.

“People have been sending us replacement twiddle muffs and blankets after they heard what had happened.

“We used these to help some of our most vulnerable patients and it’s reassuring to know that people were as outraged as we were by what had happened.”

Twiddle muffs, which are knitted tubes often fashioned with ribbons, buttons, bells and zips, can have a calming effect on people with dementia by keeping their hands busy and warding off anxiety. They are particularly useful in hospitals where people can feel anxious ahead of appointments and treatment.

The theft of the twiddle muffs happened weeks after memorabilia including  tea pots, dishes, old photographs and even an old tea cosy was stolen from an area created by staff in the style of a 1960s front room to help people with dementia feel more comfortable..

However, donations were sent into the hospital after the trust posted details of the theft on its Facebook and social media sites and news of the theft was posted by media outlets including the Hull Daily Mail, news website Hull Today and the BBC’s online service.

Staff working in the patient experience team in the outpatients department at Leicester Royal Infirmary were among those to send in replacement twiddle muffs.

Clinical support worker Kerry Morten, who helped to set up the dementia area in the clinic, said the donations had cheered everyone up.

She said: “It was just sickening to think someone could do such a horrible thing as to steal what was so obviously used by people with dementia. It was so upsetting.

“But the donations have been flooding in and it has restored our faith in human nature.

“It just makes you realise the good and kind people outnumber the minority who would think something like this is acceptable behaviour.”