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Posted on Aug 14 2018 by Bobbie Kelly

South African sewing students create sensory items for patients with Dementia

Patients with dementia at St Andrew’s Healthcare will soon be able to enjoy using brightly coloured sensory items, which have been handmade by a community group in South Africa.

Sew Amazing – part of the Winnie Mabaso Foundation – is a sewing school based in Meriting, in the South of Johannesburg. The group comprises of 20 students who live on the camp, and are learning all there is to know about needlework and sewing.

The students have just finished making a selection of brightly-coloured and textured ‘fiddle aprons’ and blankets, which will now be used by St Andrew’s patients who are living with complex dementia. The items aim to provide a stimulation activity for restless hands, providing patients with enjoyment, stimulus and comfort.

Frankie Harrison, Clinical Psychologist, explained: “There are many patients on our wards who will benefit from these items, it will hopefully give them purpose, occupation, stimulation and for some, soothing when they need it. They are a perfect addition to our activity hubs, meaning that patients can engage with these simple materials in a meaningful way.”

The items have been purchased in aid of a project called DAISIES, which stands for Dementia/HD Assessment and Intervention: Striving for Innovative and Evidence-based Services. DAISIES centres on four main areas, all of which ensure the people in our care are able to enjoy life as much as possible, with a focus on activities, ward environment, clinical outcomes and marvellous mealtimes.

Claire Carless, General Counsel and Company Secretary, explained the inspiration behind the project: “I’ve knitted some fiddle muffs for our dementia patients over the last year and the DAISIES team contacted me to ask if I could make some fiddle aprons and blankets. They had found some on the internet, but they were really expensive. Unfortunately, I can’t sew, but a Charity that I support in South Africa had recently set up a community sewing project, so I thought they might be able to help.

“The plan came together really well - the ‘Sew Amazing’ ladies were delighted to have their first commission and our dementia patients now have some colourful and fun fiddle aprons and blankets to keep their hands busy. A great result all round!”

The Winnie Mabaso Foundation was established to support vulnerable and orphaned children in South Africa, particularly those living with HIV. Over the years, the Foundation’s work has extended to encompass all ages of those who are underprivileged and in desperate need - click here to find out more.


Pictured: Far left and far right - two talented students from Sew Amazing. Centre: Frankie Harrison and Claire Carless.