Fiddle Mat Project from IW Australia

Posted by | Nov 09, 2021 |

We have embraced many projects over the years: comfort quilts and bags for distressed children, mum and baby packs for disadvantaged mothers at the local maternity ward, fund raising for homeless and domestic violence shelters and our Fiddle Mats project that our club members have worked on over the past 3 to 4 years.

We initially made the mats to be sold on our stalls for people with dementia or autism. We were then approached by the daughter of a member to make the “fiddle mats” for the residents at the Aged Care Facility she worked in. Seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia often experience restless hands and they use their sensory mats to alleviate agitation by giving them something to fiddle with and focus on. The fiddle mat provides comfort to residents who are stressed, allows them to self sooth and improves their quality of life.

A fiddle mat is a small lap blanket or quilt that has many sections and items sewn into it. There are zips, keys, old watches, handkerchiefs that slide in and out of pockets, buttons, Velcro closures, differently textured fabrics, braids, ribbons and buttons attached.

Commercially, each fiddle mat costs over AUD100 but our club made and donated the first 10 fiddle mats to the facility for its residents and from there the project has grown.

During the pandemic lockdowns, all of our aged care residents in facilities were cut off from their families and visitors and the need for fiddle mats grew. For this reason, we have continued to supply them to aged care facilities.

We were also approached by other facilities for our fiddle mats. We donated fiddle mats to a Special Education Unit at a local school for use during reading lessons. The teachers noted that while fiddling with the mat students were less stressed about their “failing” at reading and became more confident and proficient at reading.

Through our contacts at our local hospital, we were able to donate fiddle mats to their Surgery Recovery Ward where they are used to keep elderly patients calm and help to stop these patients pulling out their IV lines, and other tubes. During the recent pandemic lockdown, we donated a further 10 fiddle mats to the Palliative Care Unit at the hospital for patients undergoing treatment.

Nan and Deidra have given a presentation about our Fiddle Mats to a local Rotary Club resulting in a donation to purchase more fabric and add on items.

This project has continued throughout the pandemic lockdowns because the need is there to help people in this stressful time. It has also benefited our members, who recycle items from their sewing cupboards. The members are kept busy with a project to work on knowing what these fiddle mats mean. We, as a club, live up to our Inner Wheel Collect to, ”Never lose sight of the needs of others, nor forget to offer our help”.

Maria Pittolo, Editor