North East Connected

Knitting Nannas create cat and dog for elderly with dementia

THE KNITTING Nannas from a North East care home have created therapy animals for residents living with dementia at a fellow county care home.

The elderly knitting group from Hazelgrove Court Care Home, Randolph Street, Saltburn-by-the-Sea, wanted to put their needles to good use as part of International Friendship Day.

Made up of members Joyce Tibbett, 88, Carol Coppinger, 89, Dot Paling, 78, and Judith Pearson, 78, the Knitting Nannas have previously contributed to a knitted sculpture in Saltburn and taken part in a knit-a-thon for charity Versus Arthritis, among other knitting challenges.

Their latest brief was to create cuddly woollen creatures for those living with dementia at Waverley Lodge Care Home, Bewick Crescent, Lemington, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Keen to support residents at a fellow Hill Care Group home, they quickly got to work on a life size cat and dog.

Joyce Tibbett and Sharon Lewis, activities coordinator from Hazelgrove Court, then paid a visit to Waverley Lodge to present the residents with their new pets.

Theresa Errington, 80, received the cat, which she soon named Josephine and began singing to it. She said: “This is my love. He loves me.”

When Gladys Wilson, 97, was presented with the dog, she joked: “That’s a nice penguin”, before naming it Fido.

Christine Rogers, 75, who doesn’t speak often due to her advanced dementia, was thrilled with both animals and told the visitors how much she liked them.

After handing over the cuddly creatures, Joyce said: “We’re always happy to help anyone and when Sharon told us about another Hill Care home needing a therapy dog and cat we got the knitting needles out.

“It was lovely to see how much the Waverley ladies like them.  We’re going to be making some more for them.”

Sharon said: “When we found out the residents on the dementia suite at Waverley Lodge would benefit from having therapy animals, I asked our Knitting Nannas if they’d be willing to help.

“They jumped at the opportunity, of course, and immediately got to work on the cat and dog. They worked really hard on the cuddly toys and we’re so pleased the residents at Waverley Lodge love them.”

Amanda Cavanagh, home manager at Waverley Lodge Care Home, said: “This is such an amazing act of kindness. The animals were a huge hit. It was lovely to see how much the Waverley ladies enjoyed the gifts. What a lovely thing to do for Friendship Day.

“Dementia therapy animals like these provide many therapeutic benefits, helping to soothe, reduce feelings of anxiety and loneliness, improve general wellbeing, and bring back memories of their own pets.

“They have already had such a big impact on those living on our dementia suite and we can’t thank the lovely Knitting Nannas from Hazelgrove Court enough.”

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