Help Us Make Sensory Quilts for Patients in Need!

We know many of you are looking for ways to help during the coronavirus outbreak. Our board secretary, Emily Chua, has been in touch with Capital Caring, a local hospice network. Initially Capital Caring requested 2,000 masks in anticipation of a supply shortage. They have decided to drop the mask request for now, but have specifically asked for sensory quilts to keep patients in end-of-life and dementia care busy. Below is an excerpt of the email from Karen Knoble, who handles volunteer engagement for Capital Caring on why are in need of sensory quilts:
"If you are willing to help in other ways, these are the current needs.  Several of our social workers and nurses are asking for items to help with anxiety, pain, isolation.  Research shows tactile stimulation can help to “center” or refocus those in pain, those who are experiencing anxiety and those who are in pain.
Sensory Quilts, blankets and Aprons- I can’t express how comforting these items are to patients who are in pain or anxious, we anticipate the few months we will see an increase in the need for these and to be honest, I have given all out except for one, I only have one left.  These can be made a variety of ways and will a variety of items, creativity is endless here."

As you know, most end-of-life and dementia care facilities are on lockdown and home visits are becoming more restricted, with patients more isolated than ever. These Sensory Quilts (also known as fidget blankets or busy blankets) are wonderful for keeping their hands occupied.

This is an example Karen sent, and we'll link to more. The blankets don't have to be very big -- big enough to partially cover a lap, but of course you can go bigger if you want.

Here are some more examples:

These are not difficult to make, and you can get very creative. The basic model is simple patchwork -- such as squares -- in a variety of colorful fabrics (adding differently textured fabrics such as fleece, minky, velvet, and satin is great if you can) with "sensory" items sewn on, such as rickrack, lace, pompoms, bows, zippers, buttons, etc.
Ordinarily we would organize a mass collection and dropoff, but to reduce the number of hands (and germs) involved, we may ask that you either drop off or mail sensory quilts to Capital Caring's two dropoff locations in Alexandria and Centreville. We will find out what Capital Caring recommends and will update you with more logistics information, but in the meantime, if you are looking to stay busy with a project that will help a patient in need stay busy, these are wonderful projects to get started on. Thank you for all you do!