At the end of October, Tiree Tapestry Group and Tiree Tech Wave hosted a Funshop for members of the community to make some sensory pockets for people with late stage dementia.

The Funshop was led by Professor Cathy Treadway, Dr Kereine Canavan and Dr Helen Watkins from Cardiff Metropolitan University and Dr Wendy Moncur from the University of Dundee. Cathy has led Funshops all over the world and we were excited to have this opportunity on Tiree.

sensory pocket

People with late stage dementia may no longer be able to do the things they used to enjoy. Sensory textiles provide an opportunity for creative stimulation, something for people to do with their hands, to occupy their time in a pleasurable way.

sensory pocket

Individually designed pockets, aprons or blankets can include elements that reflect someone’s current or past interests and life story. They can be comforting; they can trigger memories and connections, provide a sense of the familiar and reinforce a sense of self. They can also provide a starting point for a conversation and help to keep a relationship going when it is hard to know what to say to someone.

group making sensory pockets

About twenty of us, young and old, experienced stitchers and complete beginners, spent a creative afternoon choosing cloth, thread, ribbons, buttons and beads to make and decorate our pockets. We were encouraged to make pockets that were decorative to look at and interesting or soothing to touch, with different textures and embellishments and perhaps a surprise to find inside. Some of us made pockets for friends or relatives with dementia, some were donated to give to residents in Taigh a ‘ Rudha and one or two have gone to Oban and further afield.

stitching sensory pocket

Sue Pagan, Dementia Advisor, was on hand to answer questions. We watched a short video which showed what a difference a helpful response can make to someone with dementia, whether in a shop, on a bus or in other everyday situations. Rather than dismissing or rushing someone who seems a bit confused, it helps to slow down, to take time to try to understand what someone wants or needs help with, to ask simple questions and to give clear instructions. About a dozen of us signed up as Dementia Friends with Alzheimers Scotland.

sensory pockets made at funshop

We made a small display of all the pockets and it was fun to see what other people had done and to hear their stories and experiences.

funshop leaders and Dementia Advisor

Thank you to Cathy and her team, to Tiree Windfall Fund, Argyll and Bute Health and Wellbeing Fund, Curam, Alzheimer Scotland, North Argyll Carers, Taigh a’ Rudha, our local health and social care team and everyone who came along and took part.

Jane MacDonald

Hand i Pocket Funshop: Creative Textiles for People With Dementia