A Colchester ward sister is setting up a group of volunteers to make blankets for patients who are nearing the end of their lives and also to reduce loneliness among the knitters themselves.
Sarah Sands said she was encouraged to set up the initiative after seeing the positive response from patients when blankets were donated by a knitting group in Norfolk led by one of her relatives.
As a result, Ms Sands, from the acute cardiac unit at Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, said she was seeking to set up a new group of volunteers to meet regularly at the Essex hospital.
They will be called the “CHUFT Blanketeers” – in recognition of the hospital’s abbreviation based nickname. Ms Sands said she also believed that the group of volunteers would bring together people who are often socially isolated, and give them a chance to get out of their home and meet other people.
People who attend will not necessarily have to knit – they can make tea, crochet, sew or simply come along for a chat to combat loneliness, which Ms Sands described as “our biggest epidemic”.
She said she was also hoping to attract volunteers who can support the group in various other ways, such as by transporting knitters to and from meetings or by delivering and collecting balls of wool.
Nurse sets up scheme to bring comfort to end of life care patients
Ms Sands said: “When a patient is nearing the end of their life, we try to make their room less clinical by removing as much of the medical equipment as possible and make it more homely – a beautiful hand-knitted blanket helps us to do that.
The unit hosted a tea party this week to thank some of the knitters from Norfolk who have already made about a dozen blankets for end of life care patients there. They were able to show staff examples of their work and spent time in the unit’s day room working on new blankets.
Each of their blankets has a handwritten tag giving the name of the person who knitted it and stating “to bring you warmth and comfort at a difficult time”. The other side of the tag is printed with the words “knitted with love” and has a motif comprising a ball of wool and two knitting needles.