I have a friend, Margaret Loomis, in my art group, ArtsEtc, who has come up with an amazing idea and has put it into action. She saw that Alzheimer’s patients were lined up in their wheelchairs in the hallways of their nursing home and they sat with their heads down with no stimulation for several hours. To provide some interaction for them, she decided to make covers for their wheelchairs that had three dimensional art so that they could reach out and touch the cover on the chair in front of theirs. She made sure that there were no embellishments on the covers that could be removed by the patients and put in their mouths like buttons, sequins, beads, etc. She also found out that patients with dementia and Alzheimer's can be disturbed by shiny things so no glitter, foils, or shiny fabrics. She also made sure that the covers were comfortable on the side facing the back of the patient and that they are machine-washable. Here are five of the many she has made so far.
|I'm Still Me|
|And here's the artist!|
Even more amazing, a nurse got wind of her idea and has applied for a grant to do a study at one of our local rehab homes with an Alzheimer’s wing to see the effects of the covers on the patients and the staff. So our art group is busy making the wheelchair covers for the study.
I’m sharing this with you because I’m hoping you will pass this on to many others. They don’t take long to make and really brighten up someone’s world. I could see many guilds and other groups taking this project on. Even if the staff of a retirement home or hospital is cheered up by wheelchair art, it will have a positive effect on their patients.
Here's a diagram of how to make them. It has the size for a wheelchair for the average adult. I cut batting and backing fabric the length and width of the whole thing and spray basted them together. Then I spray basted the part that would go against the person's back. Then I assembled the artwork and attached that last by fusing and finally quilted the whole thing. I attached bias tape to the edges with a zig zag stitch to all the edges and it was finished.
My personal goal is to make wheel chair covers on a regular basis for a retirement home in the long term ward with the understanding that the staff will put them on the wheel chairs in the morning when the patients are using the chairs, and then velcro or pin them onto the curtains that divide the patient’s beds from each other in their rooms in the afternoons when they are in bed so that they can see the art on the cover when they are in bed. I’m going to sew velcro onto the cover and onto the dividing curtain if the staff will allow it. If the retirement home doesn’t like the idea, then I’ll make the covers for children at the local hospital or find a place that will want them on a regular basis. Nov. 14: I recently found out that they cannot be put onto the curtains because the curtains are fire retardant and the fabrics of the wheelchair covers would have to be fire retardant, also. Makes sense.
Wheelchair art doesn’t have to be as elaborate as Margaret’s. One of our group made several covers that are blocks of traditional log cabins and her covers are gorgeous. Mine is a bouquet of flowers that I made by fusing fabrics that I fussy cut and fused onto a background and then zig-zagged stitched to make sure they stayed on after machine washed. Anything that is cheerful would be appreciated. But Margaret has truly inspired us at ArtsEtc with her beautiful art and her clever and witty take on these wheelchair covers!
I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can visit other art quilt blogs. Please make comments to let the artists know you visited.