Crafting Fiddle Muffs in Nursing Homes

Fiddle muffs are the newest craze – in nursing homes at the least. Knitted hand muffs with sewn in fiddle things have become popular among elderly hospital and care residents with dementia and anxiety. Not only do they maintain elderly hands warm but their buttons, ribbons, beads and other quirky adornments keep their owners occupied, prevent them from scratching and picking in their skin and will help trigger memories. Heather Robertson, an actions co-ordinator in Bonney Lodge in the Riverland of South Australia, said they’re discovering they are very good for residents suffering with a bit of anxiety, or scratching their skin, picking themselves, or for people who have dementia. As fidget spinners, originally pitched at kids with ADHD and autism, have made their way to schools throughout the world, hand-crafted fiddle muffs have begun emerging in nursing homes and hospitals everywhere.

Loxton girl Sally Goode first heard of these while visiting relatives in England. Through her work on the district health council in slips trips and falls training, Ms Goode guessed the Fiddle muffs are well-received locally and developed a prototype. Soon she was getting requests for fiddle muffs from aged care and mental health centers and Ms Goode knew she needed help to fulfill demand. She thought ‘who else could make this sort of thing’ and it had been CWA without another thought. The Loxton CWA girls have knitted and adorned 50 fiddle muffs for neighborhood facilities and the project has spread to branches in different states. They’ve used inspiration from the area’s fruit-growing heritage when sewing on ‘fiddle’ items.

Ms Goode said they found things to sew them that they believed would be relevant to the sort of people that are in aged care [in the Riverland]. For the blockies [farmers] they have irrigation equipment that twist up, and they went down very well and it went from there. For women they used beads and buttons and button holes, ribbons they could plait. It is just something to spark a memory. While other fiddle layouts, such as aprons and trays, have existed for a while the muffs appear to work especially well. At Bonney Lodge Ms Robertson was happy to see an older man stop scratching in his skin after being given a fiddle muff. Ms Robertson found that instead of him scratching himself he was actually playing with the buttons and things like the bed sensor and hospital mattress connected to the fiddle muffs.

The muffs knitted from the Loxton CWA have fiddle objects inside as well as on the outside. Ms Robertson said too that as being therapeutic for restless hands that they also provided warmth and relaxation. The latest craze in nursing homes is not only maintaining the hands of dementia sufferers warm, it’s also keeping their hands busy. The craft initiative, Twiddle Muffs, has come to Warragamba and the women at the Hobby Hut are providing comfort to residents at Carrington’s Mary MacKillop dementia ward. Twiddle muffs enable individuals to put their hands in the muff and they then can fiddle with ribbons, buttons, pom poms and different woolen textures.

Warragamba Hobby Hut member Erica Berton and many others knitted a few dozen muffs in the previous six months and given them to Carrington last week. Ms Berton explained they were sick of knitting blankets and rugs and these muffs help them use up spare parts of cloth from their craft jobs. They are also used to slide over bandages so the residents cannot rip off their dressings. Ms Berton said it would take her about a week to knit one of those muffs because she’d do it while watching tv and when she’d spare wool. Carrington Care Services director Julie Barry stated the staff and residents were grateful to get the warm gifts. She stated the team got excited when there was something new for the residents to do that gave them pleasure, particularly for the ones that don’t speak or socialise.

She explained that a lot of people who are not mobile like to fiddle with their clothing to keep their hands busy. She continued that one woman who does not socialise much was asleep when the hobby hut members came. She slid one on her hands and with her eyes shut, her hands began playing with the fluffy pom poms. Another woman held onto the muff and was yanking the different knitting materials, which is terrific for cognition.