Handmade for Dementia: The Dementia Cannula Sleeve

Written by: Sharon Holdstock, Handmade for Dementia

Published: 17/09/2018

Sharon tells us about the difference the Dementia Cannula Sleeve has made for people living with dementia.

After being introduced to the twiddle mitt when I volunteered at the Hospice of the Good Shepherd in Chester, I started to knit them. I sing in the local care/sheltered homes and it was then that I realised how other fidget items can help a person affected by later stage dementia.

As dementia is also prevalent in my family I also wanted to see how many other people could be helped to ease their anxiety.

We started a small group on Facebook called Handmade for Dementia. Initially, our group of ladies started by making twiddle mitts for all the care homes in their local area. We also made fidget lap mats and new outfits for dolls to be given as comfort dolls to people affected by dementia.

Once this had been achieved and demand slowed down, the ladies were trying to think of new items that could be made by the group.

It was knitter Eileen Copeland, a retired District Nurse, who said “what about a cannula sleeve?” Those two words have now, in a good way, taken over my life.

The Dementia Cannula Sleeve is essentially an elongated twiddle mitt with cuffs at each end, which therefore becomes a sleeve. It is a lot safer than twiddle mitts as they have buttons and can have other unsafe items sewn on. Unfortunately a lot of twiddle mitts nationwide that have been made by other ladies/groups and donated are not safe as the items etc are only sewn on with a few stitches, or will twist and break, therefore are not used.

The Dementia Cannula Sleeve is made of really bright colours and textured wool. The items that are added are crocheted or knitted only, therefore, a lot safer. It is also lined with an inner sleeve for comfort.

These were trialled at the Countess of Chester for 2 months at the end of 2017 and hailed as a success.

Since then, at the time of writing, Handmade for Dementia has knitters in our Facebook group all over the country who make and donate their Dementia Cannula Sleeves to their local hospitals. So far 3275 sleeves have been made and donated to 54 hospitals.


UK hospitals have also praised this innovation via Twitter.

Matron Helen Morris, from Arrowe Park Hospital tweeted:

“You know you have a vital piece of equipment when your consultant comes and hunts you down for a dementia cannula sleeve for a patient.”

“Proud to accept another donation of the wonderful dementia cannula sleeves made by Handmade for Dementia for our dementia patients in ED. A simple solution that can help so many. Huge Thanks from Team ED.”

Yvette Ruddock from Arrowe Park Hospital, Wirral tweeted:

“Having used these with patients, I can only say are amazing. I managed to get a patient through CT when I thought would need sedation.”

Dr Lucinda Baldwin from Aintree University Hospital tweeted:

“Another patient helped greatly today by your dementia cannula sleeves. A very agitated and distressed patient in A & E who required IV antibiotics, calmed down considerably when we put the cannula sleeve on. Thank you all so much for your hard work and dedication. It is making a huge difference to our patients.”

“Cannulating an agitated patient could be up to half an hour or more with multiple people involved, this can cause more distress to the patient. Your sleeves reduce far, far more than cost.”

“The patient’s experience is less burdensome interventions that cause anxiety and distress.”

We thought you might also like: