Museum craft group helps people with dementia

A traditional craft group at Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery has taken on a commission with a difference – to make ‘twiddlemuffs’ for local people with dementia.

The group has been running for over five years and meets at the museum every week to knit items for local and international charities. Members have made a large number of blankets and items of clothing such as hats and scarves over the years, all of which have been donated to great causes.

The group’s latest commission is for something many people may not have heard of, but which has a really important function. Twiddlemuffs are knitted muffs with items like ribbons and buttons attached. They are given to people with dementia, who often have restless hands.

They’ve been trialled at a number of hospices and hospitals around the country with positive results and are a great way to help people with dementia keep busy and take comfort. They can also help improve their dexterity and circulation.

The commission came about through Doreen Willis, a member of the craft group who works at the Edgcumbe Unit in Mount Gould Hospital. Doreen had a request from the hospital, run by Plymouth Community Healthcare, to create a dozen twiddlemuffs for a sensory room in the dementia assessment unit and approached her fellow members for help.

The group has also produced some sensory cushions for the unit, as well as some extra twiddlemuffs for the museum’s learning officers to use during their outreach sessions.

Councillor Ian Tuffin, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care said: “The Museum and Art Gallery is committed helping people with dementia and this work fits wonderfully with Plymouth’s status as a dementia friendly city. The patients at the Edgcumbe Unit have responded really well to the materials that the craft group have produced for them. It’s a testament to how well the different members of group work together, sharing their skills for the benefit of others.”

The Women’s Traditional Craft Group meets every Friday morning at the Museum and Art Gallery. For more information call 01752 304774.