What we have learned in our testing about how to get the most benefit from these quilts.
The most important thing to remember is that every patient is different. They will all use these products in ways you, or we, never expected. It can be truly surprising the way they will interact with them and as long as their method is safe – you’ve won.
We did several months of non-scientific testing in many of our local communities to determine if these would actually engage the residents. We knew the theory and thought they should work but we didn’t want to make any assumptions. What we learned by testing surprised not only us but the facilities where we did the testing.
We learned that the same shapes in different sizes made a difference in how they were used. In general, the 12” quilts were used in a more active way – as a napkin, to clean a table, like a bandana, etc. while the 16” tended to be used as a lap quilt to pet and calm themselves down.
Often the quilt is folded up so that the favorite fabric is on top so they can pet just that one. Other patients will keep it open so that they can experience all of the fabrics with each pass of the hand. We also found that each patient knows what stimulates them the best so some rubbed the quilts on different parts of their bodies, such as their faces, rather than just their hands.
The pictures on the quilts are chosen very carefully to be age appropriate and to be as realistic as possible. It can be difficult to look at a stylized drawing and figure out what it is so we have chosen our fabrics with this in mind. Asking questions about the pictures is usually where the social aspect of the activity starts. The goal is to get them talking and keep them talking. Then you can branch out into more tactile related questions.
Have you ever seen an animal like this?
What is that? A hammer? Have you used one? What did you like to build?
That’s a loon? Did you ever see one on a lake? When? Who were you with?
What color is that? What does it remind you of?
How does that feel? Does it remind you of anything else that felt like that?
That seems rough to you? What else is rough around here?
You said this one is slippery. What does it remind you of? Your wedding dress?
What was your wedding like? Who was there?
We found that thread tracing was also a favorite activity for patients so we increased the visibility and thickness of the quilting threads. If they like to trace, choose one of the quilts with embroidered fabrics. This will give them even more to go around. Often the repetitive motion of following the lines will allow the patient to relax and start talking.
Aroma therapy was also enjoyed by the patients who tested the quilts. Putting a small dab of scented oil on the flannel on the back worked nicely. Favorite scents were lavender and lilac at bedtime and lemon during the day. We hope that as people try out other scents they will share their results in the forum. It was particularly nice when a scent related to the picture. When there were lemons on the quilt, the lemon scent was extra helpful. A pine scent for a woods picture also helped tie thoughts and memories to the present for the patient. Keep in mind that some scents are calming and some are energizing. You won’t want to give them a quilt with an energizing scent like coffee or eucalyptus if you want them to calm down and take a nap. You also may not want to give them something that smells like a calm ocean breeze if you want them to be more active with the other patients or to get up and dressed in the morning. Another scent category to consider is the perfume or colognes of loved ones from their past. If Dad always wore Old Spice and Mom always wore Chanel, these can be very powerful scents for this particular patient.
Sound is another sense that we wanted to engage but it can be tricky. We have found a crinkle material that works really well but some people can be annoyed by the sound while others love it. It’s like bubble wrap – there’s those that love to pop them and those that the popping drives up the wall. Monitor your person to see if they avoid the fabric that crinkles or not. If they like it you have now added another layer to your person’s interaction with their world.
Of all the senses, the only one we couldn’t integrate into these quilts was taste. We do NOT recommend allowing your patient to eat the quilts. However, if you had a snack that is related to what’s on the quilt it would be a good addition. If you have a quilt with lemons on it and put lemon scent on it and had a lemon cookie snack – all 5 senses are now engaged in the one activity.
We have designed these to have good durability but if your person likes to pick things apart or rubs aggressively, they may not last as long as they would for someone else. It may also be that the materials in that particular quilt is either not rough enough to give them the sensory feedback they are looking for or this is how they work out their anxiety and the additional pressure they are applying is for that purpose. If you see excessive wear you may want to keep it in mind when ordering your next one. We have a large variety of fabrics so some may be better for your particular person than others.
We are continuing to test new products and concepts in real-world environments. If they turn out to be helpful we will bring them out to you soon. We do not want to make products that we have not tested to be sure they can work for real people.