Twiddle boards help stimulate dementia patients in Tunbridge Wells

SHEDDING LIGHT: (L-R) Shedder Stuart Fittall, Lead Dementia Nurse Liz Champion, Tim Tempest and TWOFF Secretary Joan Boenke

Twiddle boards help stimulate dementia patients in Tunbridge Wells

by Andy Tong | 23rd November 2018

AN INNOVATIVE way to entertain people who are living with dementia has been devised by the Tunbridge Wells Over Fifties Forum [TWOFF] and Sherwood Men’s Shed.

In later stages of the condition, patients tend to fiddle with items around them in order to keep themselves occupied – moving objects around, folding paper and zipping clothing up and down.

One idea to help them remain calm and reduce anxiety which has proved successful in recent years has been twiddle cuffs or mitts – knitted bands which are decorated with ribbons, buttons and beads.

Now TWOFF and the Men’s Shed have created a similar idea called Twiddle Boards, a square of wood with attachments such as door handles, locks, bolts, hook and eye fastenings, chains, stopcocks and even light switches.

It is believed that engaging in such activity may not just be occupational, but will also help to stimulate memories of past usage.

TWOFF members had already made twiddle cuffs for hospital patients, but they wanted to try to create something that was more challenging.

So they approached Tim Tempest of Sherwood Men’s Shed to help design the boards, and he recruited his ‘Shedders’ to plan and make them out of donated materials.

The two organisations have presented Liz Champion, the Lead Dementia Nurse at Tunbridge Wells Hospital in Pembury, with four Twiddle Boards.

“This is so exciting for us,” said Liz, “These boards will be in constant use as they can be moved from ward to ward.”

Tim said: “TWOFF came to us and asked us to build a prototype. It’s ideal for us because it’s fairly simple to make. The guys who come to the shed have a variety of different skill levels.

“It suits us as well because it’s about meeting the needs of a minority through the wider community. And it’s very green, because we are able to recycle these items rather than just throwing them away.”

Sherwood Men’s Shed are looking for donations of similar unwanted, safe-to-use domestic ironmongery and electrical components so they can make more twiddle boards. For more information, contact Tim on 07827 919 251.

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