Handmade for Dementia
1207. Sharon Holdstock
Sharon Holdstock, from Chester, is the founder of ‘Handmade for Dementia’, a volunteer project which has created over 6,000 handknitted ‘cannula sleeves’ for dementia patients to help ease stress and anxiety.
Sharon was inspired to set up the project from supporting her grandmother with Alzheimer’s Disease and her mother, who is affected by vascular dementia. While volunteering in a hospice in her local area, Sharon noticed how some of the residents with dementia could be quite fidgety, and started knitting fidget mitts to help with the issue. She then developed the concept of a ‘cannula sleeve’ covering the whole arm and adorned with crocheted decorations. Since January 2018, Sharon has built a network of over 4,700 volunteer knitters, working with 80 Hospital Trusts across the UK to distribute knitted sleeves to patients.
In a personal letter to Sharon, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“You have inspired thousands of fellow knitters to get involved in creating colourful and comforting sleeves for dementia patients. Your innovative designs are making a real difference in helping those living with dementia cope with anxiety. I wish you the very best in your continued work.”
“I am delighted and honoured to be awarded the Points of Light award from the Prime Minister. This is received on behalf of all the people who work so very hard making a donating Dementia/Comfort Twiddle items to people living with this dreadful disease across the UK via ‘Handmade for Dementia’.
“Since May 2016 when the group was founded, we have made and donated these much needed items to our wonderful hospitals, care and nursing homes, memory cafe’s and individuals affected by dementia during the later stages.
“In October 2017 the Dementia Cannula Sleeve was devised, trialled at the Countess of Chester for two months and now 6,430 of them have been made and donated to 80 NHS Hospitals across the UK, saving them thousands of pounds via not having to re-cannulate the patient.”