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Knitting project to help city's dementia patients.

KNITTERS are needed to play a vital role in offering comfort to dementia sufferers in Newcastle.

The Dementia Care Team at hospitals in the city are looking for knitting groups and individuals to volunteer their skills to support people living with dementia while they are in hospital.

The team is introducing knitted comforters - knitted dolls and hand muffs that can be given to patients who are agitated and confused.

Giving the knitted comforters to patients with dementia allows them to explore creation and relaxation. It has been found that the soft texture of the knitted comforter settles the patient, giving him or her something nice to look at, handle and touch, thus reducing anxiety and agitation.

The scheme has previously been trialled in care homes across the UK and is now to be introduced in hospitals across Newcastle after a successful pilot on older people's wards in the city.

Dr Julia Blagburn, senior lead Clinical Pharmacist at the Newcastle Hospitals, said: "Dementia is a chronic brain disease that can cause memory loss, personality changes and impaired reasoning.

"The use of knitted comforters to help bring a little bit of relief to patients has many positive effects. They are an accessible and cost effective means of relieving mild to moderate distress and the scheme is a harm-free, drugfree approach for patients." There are no potential side effects, unlike when taking strong medication which is sometimes given for patients who demonstrate severe anxiety. A patient who has dementia and is in hospital may be more confused than usual and may therefore detach or remove vital care equipment such as dressings, tubes and cannulae. Knitted comforters have been shown to help patients settle during these particularly stressful periods.

Clare Abley, nurse consultant for Vulnerable Older Adults at the Newcastle "Up to now, the comforters have been knitted by volunteers from the Chaplaincy and Pharmacy Departments working at the Newcastle Hospitals.

"The Dementia Care Team is keen for more knitters and wool donors to support this initiative and raise awareness of its bene-fits."

Dr Blagburn added: "Our primary hope is that they will comfort patients with cognitive impairment, who can become extremely distressed during their hospital stay.

"I also hope they will have an impact on the amounts of antipsychotic medicines that are needed by people with dementia in the hospital. These medicines can have serious side effects and we are working to keep their use to an absolute minimum.

"Many care homes have found that patients grow very attached to their knitted comforters, often seeing the doll as a real person. This in turn means that the patient engages and interacts more with the doll, leading to a sense of purpose and happiness.

"Staff at the Newcastle Hospitals want to give as many patients as possible the opportunity to experience these positive feelings.

"Your generosity and kindness could mean the world to a person living with dementia in the North East."

| If you or someone you know would like to help, please contact the Newcastle Hospitals' Dementia Care Team on tel: 0191 2139605.


Hospitals is in full support of the introduction of Knitted Comforters. She said: "We have seen the bene-fits for patients during the pilot, so we know they work.

<BThe Day Room on Ward 14 at the Freeman Hospital. Volunteers are being sought to provide knitted comforters for dementia sufferers
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Apr 26, 2016
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