Volunteer Creates Twiddle Pads To Keep Hospice Patients' Hands Busy

Mount Pleasant volunteer Janni Fitzpatrick recently went the extra mile when EveryStep Hospice volunteer coordinator Machelle Lowe realized the Southeast Iowa team's supply of "twiddle pads" had run low. 

Twiddle pads or fidget blankets, as they are sometimes called, are gifted to hospice patients who might need a little extra tactile, visual and sensory stimulation. The items are helpful for maintaining fine motor skills and encouraging activities of daily living such as using buttons, zippers and laces. They can often be a soothing solution to the restlessness, fidgeting and anxiety that often comes with Alzheimer's or dementia. Team members will provide the pads to patients if they notice they are fidgeting with their hands, picking at their clothes or blanks. 

Machelle recalls providing a twiddle pad to a patient who had a brain injury and had expressed that he wanted to "work." 

"We gave him a twiddle pad to occupy his mind, and he felt busy," Machelle says. 

While Machelle reached out to the local quilting shop seeking volunteers and donations to make more of the pads, Janni took it upon herself to sew an assortment of the items up for her team to give out. 

Janni, a retired nurse, has been a long-time hospice volunteer. She first joined a Henry County all volunteer hospice program in the 1980s. However, she joined EveryStep Hospice as a volunteer in 2014, after her husband was a patient of the organization.

“I feel very strongly that hospice services make a big difference in people’s lives and am proud to be a small part of the organization,” Fitzpatrick said when she was recognized as an outstanding volunteer by the Hospice and Palliative Care Association of Iowa in 2018. 

In addition to using her sewing skills to provide patients with twiddle pads, regularly bakes treats for the organization’s grief support meetings and classes, and volunteers time in the Mount Pleasant office.

If you or someone you know has a love of sewing and is interested in creating Twiddle Pads for hospice patients, please contact a volunteer coordinator at an EveryStep Hospice office near you

Inset photo: EveryStep Hospice volunteer Janni Fitzpatrick poses with volunteer coordinator Machelle Lowe at the Hospice and Palliative Care Association of Iowa's annual volunteer recognition ceremony in 2018.