For the volunteers at Loving Care Hospice and Home Health, making patients more comfortable is a top priority. Sometimes the best way to do that is to think outside the box and get creative.
Last fall, that’s just what the volunteer staff did by introducing patients at the health care agency to the “fidget blanket.”
“One of our nurses suggested it,” said Annetta Dellinger, the volunteer coordinator at Loving Care. “I did some research and found out what they were and thought they might be good for the patients here.”
She found that fidget blankets are small lap quilts that are made up of different fabrics, usually flannel on the underside, and the cloth tops are coated with a variety of objects ranging from keys to zippers to buttons.
“They were originally designed for cancer patients as something to keep their hands busy, to distract them,” Dellinger said. “But then physicians quickly found they would also be good for Alzheimer and Dementia patients.”
The blankets can also have fabrics with varying textures to go along with the sewn-on objects. According to Dr. Colleen Pema, one of the Loving Care medical directors, “They have been proven to help reduce anxiety and restlessness.”
Dellinger added that the mixture of textures can also help stimulate the brain through sense memory and that the nature of “fidgeting” with the dangling objects can often have a therapeutic value.
“They are just a wonderful distraction,” she said.
Loving Care is a nonprofit, Christian health agency so they purchase the items for the blankets through a grant from Thrivent Financial, an insurance company for Lutheran organizations.
“We can apply for grants that will be used for community events or projects like this,” Dellinger said. “We have received a couple. They are usually around $250.”
The money allows the agency to keep items on hand to produce new quilts once the old ones have been given to patients. Items such as ribbon, socks, buttons, ponytail hair bands, and even measuring spoons can be sewn onto the quilts.
Volunteer Dee Greene has made 12 quilts on her own. “It’s nice to know I can do something to bring comfort to someone else,” she said. “The key is sewing the sensory tactile articles on securely.” The quilts are usually 14 by 17 inches and can be made however the quilter wants.
Dellinger said that Loving Care volunteers have made some as well as church groups and other London residents who have donated their time.
“I have the stuff ready for anyone who would be interested in making one. There’s no wrong way to do it,” she said. “All it costs is time.”
Those interested in participating in the blanket making can contact Dellinger at 740-852-7755.
Reach Michael Williamson at 740-852-1616, ext. 1619.