Patching Together Passion and Profession


I have been a quilter for over 30 years. During that time I never imagined that my passion for quilting would interface with my profession in any way. That is until last fall…

Quilt for the "touch quilt project."

I was heading to Ottawa for a vacation and decided to surf the web for quilt related events taking place during my visit. During my research, I noticed a “touch quilt project” on the Ottawa Valley Guild website, a project promoted by the Alzheimer’s Society of Manitoba.

With a little more surfing I learned that touch quilts are built to provide stimulation, comfort and calming for people with mid- to late-stage Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. The small lap sized quilts are designed to stimulate senses through the incorporation of colour, texture and the addition of items to fidget with, such as zippers, laces, tie-ends and pockets.

Working in long-term care, the touch quilt project piqued my interest. I knew that over half the resident population in long-term care suffered from some type of dementia. Would touch quilts be beneficial to some of our residents?

Quilt for the "touch quilt project."

With information on the project and a sample touch quilt, I approached my quilting guild, the Ocean View Quilters Guild, and proposed that we create touch quilts to donate to personal care homes and nursing homes in the Eastern Health region as our charity project for 2013-14. The response was overwhelming, as many of our members have known someone who lived with dementia.

In March 2014, approximately 25 guild members assembled at the Lion’s Chalet, Conception Bay South, to create the quilts. Using donated fabrics and embellishments, the group spent the day cutting, designing, sewing and quilting. At the end of the day, there were approximately 30 touch quilts in some stage of assembly. By the end of May, guild members had completed a total of 50 quilts!

Members of the Ocean View Quilters Guild (l-r) Helen Duff, Margaret Wade, Donna Nolan, Janice Dalton and staff with Eastern Health’s Personal Care Home Program (l-r) Sandra Williams, Judy Peddle and Cathie Barker Pinsent display touch quilts for residents of Admiral’s Coast Retirement Home in Kelligrews.

Members of the Ocean View Quilters Guild (l-r) Helen Duff, Margaret Wade, Donna Nolan, Janice Dalton and staff with Eastern Health’s Personal Care Home Program (l-r) Sandra Williams, Judy Peddle and Cathie Barker Pinsent display touch quilts for residents of Admiral’s Coast Retirement Home in Kelligrews.

On a beautiful sunny day in June at the Admirals’ Coast Retirement Centre in Kelligrews, the Ocean View Quilters Guild presented several quilts to Eastern Health’s Personal Care Home Program to be shared with personal care homes in the eastern region. Residents of the home also joined us at the event to view the quilts and learn more about the project.

Janice Dalton, member of the Ocean View Quilters Guild and regional coordinator for Eastern Health’s long-term care program presents touch quilts to Laurie Adams, recreation specialist at the Hoyles-Escasoni Complex.

Janice Dalton, member of the Ocean View Quilters Guild and regional program coordinator for Eastern Health’s long-term care program presents touch quilts to Laurie Adams, recreation specialist at the Hoyles-Escasoni Complex.

The Ocean View Quilters Guild also presented quilts to Laurie Adams, a recreation specialist at the Hoyles-Escasoni Complex. Upon receiving the quilts Laurie expressed that as a therapeutic recreation specialist she was really excited about receiving the touch quilts and was amazed at the amount of the work completed on each individual quilt.

“Not only will the quilts stimulate the senses but they will also create comfort and security for our residents with dementia. We can use them in our therapeutic recreation programming by providing opportunities for sensory stimulation and reminiscence therapy. We are very grateful to be presented with such a valuable resource to be used with the residents,” said Laurie.

(l-r) Cathie Barker Pinsent, regional manager of Eastern Health’s Personal Care Home Program, and Judy Peddle, program coordinator of Eastern Health’s Personal Care Home Program, receive touch quilts from Margaret Wade, member of the Ocean View Quilters Guild.

(l-r) Cathie Barker Pinsent, regional manager of Eastern Health’s Personal Care Home Program, and Judy Peddle, program coordinator of Eastern Health’s Personal Care Home Program, receive touch quilts from Margaret Wade, member of the Ocean View Quilters Guild.

I am delighted that my professional work has benefitted from my passion for quilting. However, there has also been a personal benefit from leading this project. I am happy that through my passion and professional work that I was able to “give to others” and touch the lives of some of our long-term care residents in a meaningful way.

Happiness… consists in giving, and in serving others – Henry Drummond

This story was written by Janice Dalton, regional program coordinator for Eastern Health’s long-term care.

5 responses to “Patching Together Passion and Profession

  1. I really enjoyed reading your story..Such an important contribution .Working in a LTC Setting I can say that these extra ” touches” make our Residents’ lives a little easier and brighter…..so on behalf of us all…thank you so much!

  2. As a member of the Ocean View Quilters Guild, I saw the enthusiasm of the members when the idea for the Touch Quilts was presented to them – total support for it – and how that enthusiasm carried through in making the quilts. A true labour of love.
    Donna Nolan

  3. I am a member of Ocean View Quilters Club. I am also a member with family members with dementia. I have witnessed the happiness these quilts bring to dementia patients, a loving smile and many happy moments from touching and feeling the different fabrics.It is also a comfort to relatives of patients when they see the happiness it brings. The pleasure it brings from making and giving these quilts to a person suffering from dementia makes it well worth the effort. .

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