Sewers thread palliative support during Dementia Awareness Month

Gail Johnson, Margaret Willis, Amanda Nowak get knitting!

Blacktown Hospital’s sewing group With These Hands has been busy stitching up resources for dementia and palliative care patients – but they still need more volunteers!

The group used Dementia Awareness Month (held in September) to take to Blacktown Hospital’s Hospital Street to promote their activities, which includes creating fiddle mats and aprons for dementia patients, small bags to conceal treatment items for cancer patients and bags for patients’ belongings.

The volunteers have also been working on a major sewing project – making two patchwork blankets to cover the mortuary trolleys.

The project was the brainchild of palliative care nurse Helen Smith, who wanted something more personal than a plain white sheet to cover the trolleys.

Occupational therapist Amanda Nowak, who manages the group, said the ladies enjoyed creating something unique for the hospital.

“They feel privileged to be able to show families that we still care about our patients even after death,” Amanda said.

With These Hands meets monthly to stitch fiddle cuffs, aprons and other resources for patients.

The fiddle equipment, made from scrap material and other fabric bits like bells, buckles, zippers and velcro, offer sensory simulation to dementia patients who may be agitated or anxious during their hospital stay.

Amanda said the group had become a great social opportunity.

“Many of our members are carers or have experience caring for loved ones with dementia so this is really a chance for them to support each other,” she said.

With These Hands meets at the hospital’s aged care meeting and group activity room.

Tea and coffee is provided at each meeting.

To join the group or to donate material, contact Amanda Nowak on

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