Written by Ryan on Tuesday the 29th of January 2019.
Fidgeting and restlessness are common behaviours seen in people living with dementia and are often misunderstood. For a long time, it has been associated with agitation and can be seen in a negative light as a form of ‘disruptive behaviour’.
Judith Bower, internal carer and Dementia Adviser for Alzheimer’s Society in Central and West Lancashire alongside Jane Souyave, Senior Graphic Design Lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) noticed that suitable activities for people living with advanced dementia were limited. They both wanted to dispel the negative stigma around fidgeting and restlessness and instead create a product which would alleviate these actions.
They received funding from Alzheimer’s Society and UCLan’s Innovation funds which would allow them to progress with the intervention. It was here that ‘Positive Connections’ was formed.
Positive Connections was created to raise awareness of how you can communicate and connect with someone living with advanced dementia even if they are not able to verbally communicate.
From this, they started work on a concept which would later materialise into a product – the Fidget Widget, a gender neutral, age appropriate device. The Fidget Widget comprises of 5 wooden handheld tactile tools that are designed to not rely on memory or words. As the Fidget Widget does not represent a specific tool, they can be interacted with in numerous creative ways. All 5 of the wooden tools are available in a kit – the Fidget Widget Toolbox.
With no right or wrong way to use a Fidget Widget, Judith and Jane found that it helped wellbeing by supporting the psychological needs of feeling occupied and engaged. The Fidget Widget provides 5 different tools to choose from, providing a great range of activities to use which include the motions of spinning, sliding, twisting, turning and rolling.
During the two-year testing period of the tools, the families who were involved had support with techniques on how to communicate and connect with their loved ones using the tools. The feedback from the families was really positive and as these interactions didn’t just involve the personal care of their loved ones but allowed them to be involved in something more fun, interesting and which had a meaningful purpose.
The Fidget Widget Toolkit is available for purchase on our store here.