Hospital call to support patients with dementia

Communications TeamNews

Pile of knitted twiddlemuffs

Appeal to knitters as supplies of twiddlemuffs start to dwindle

A senior nurse is appealing to local knitters, craft and community groups to support hospital patients living with dementia.

For a number of years, hospital staff have been giving out knitted twiddlemuffs to patients with dementia to help ease anxiety while spending time in hospital.

These brightly coloured items consist of a simple knitted tube which can be worn over the hands, but which are also adorned with bows, buttons, beads, bells, and other ornate items which the wearer can ‘twiddle’.  More recently, the Trust has received similar donations of fidget bears and blankets too.

Person holding a twiddlemuff on their hands

Twiddlemuffs help to keep the hands occupied

But now supplies are waning, as Karen Harrison, lead matron for dementia and delirium at Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust explains:

“Spending time in hospital can be difficult at any stage of life, but for older people in particular it can be quite confusing and upsetting. It can also be the cause of anxiety as people find themselves outside of their comfort zone, away from familiar people and surroundings.

“Twiddlemuffs are a really simple idea but can really help to calm people with dementia in particular who don’t always understand how or why they’ve come to be in hospital. They also provide stimulation for the hands and mind, and can be a great conversation starter for those who may otherwise tend to be quite withdrawn. They can even help us promote better safety on the wards, as patients who have little to do may be tempted to get up and wander or start to fiddle with their drip or cannula, and in turn this could lead to falls or other risks to patients’ clinical care and recovery.

“We’ve been using twiddlemuffs for a number of years, but following the Covid pandemic, we’ve seen a drop off in donations. Now we’re keen to receive a fresh supply so we can share these between our emergency department, wards and services at both HRI and Castle Hill and help make people’s time with us that bit more enjoyable.

Fidget bears piled high on a table

Fidget bears also prove popular with people with dementia

“We’d be so grateful to anyone who has a bit of spare time, a bit of spare wool and a few bits and bobs in their sewing box who can help us with this request.”

Twiddlemuffs are required for both older men and women, and each person gets to keep their own. There’s no right or wrong way to design a twiddlemuff – some people go all out on the decorations, while others add texture or make the colours as bright as they can. Unsurprisingly, the black and amber of Hull City are always popular colours! The most important thing, however, is that the adornments – beads, bows, zips or other items – are firmly sewn on.

A basic twiddlemuff pattern can be found on the hospital’s website.

Anyone wishing to try making a fidget bear or fidget blanket can also find instructions online too.

Donations can be made by post/parcel to:

Karen Harrison
Corporate Nursing Services
Brocklehurst Building
Anlaby Road

For larger donations or to drop off in-person, contact the Dementia Care Team on 01482 315548 or email