International support for patients living with dementia

Date: 13 February 2020

Ruth Phillips and TwiddleMuff delivery
Photo: Ruth Phillps alongside her delivery of TwiddleMuffs sent to EEAST

A special delivery from ‘down under’ arrived for the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) this week.

Ruth Phillips, who lives in the South West region of Australia, sent a parcel full of TwiddleMuffs to EEAST after seeing the call for volunteers on social media, which included the knitting pattern and detailed what the TwiddleMuffs are used for.

Back in June 2019, the Trust began asking for volunteers to help create these knitted aids to support sensory simulation for people living with dementia. The knitted hand muff is decorated with buttons and ribbons internally and externally, which allows patients living with dementia to have visual and sensory stimulation when going to hospital.

People living with dementia often get restless hands and the comfort of having something to twiddle in emergency ambulances and across Patient Transport Services can help relieve this.

Ruth began knitting and crocheting as part of a ‘transition to retirement’, after more than 30 years nursing and teaching in healthcare, so when she saw the post on Facebook she was keen to get involved.

Ruth said: “I think this initiative is excellent!  I have seen Twiddle mats and sleeves used in dementia units here, but it makes perfect sense to provide something to your patients that keeps them warm and occupied during transport.  It must reduce their stress significantly.

“It is way too hot over here to need muffs, and because they were so easy and fun to make, I thought you might be able to use the ones that I made.

“I have now progressed to the crocheted version, as they are a bit quicker to finish!”

Heidi Clements, Education and Training Officer who has been involved in the project for emergency vehicles since the initial rollout, said: “It’s incredible to know that our message made it all the way to Ruth in Australia, and we’re so grateful for all her hard work creating these TwiddleMuffs and sending them over.

“We want to provide a more comfortable experience to patients living with dementia, as this can be a potentially confusing and scary time whilst being transported to hospital in an ambulance, and every TwiddleMuff sent to us can help us achieve this.”

We are always searching for volunteers with any level of knitting ability to help us build a basic stock of TwiddleMuffs so every ambulance can have one as and when they are needed.

Every Twiddlemuff is single-use and would return home with the patient for them to keep.

Once you've made your TwiddleMuff(s), send them to your local ambulance station or depot.

If you have any TwiddleMuff questions, please email

  • Summary:

    A special delivery from ‘down under’ arrived for the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) this week.