After making hundreds of masks, headbands and scrub caps at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rosemary Chatterson has taken on a more complex project – making fidget blankets for dementia patients.

The Alexandria resident was originally asked by Maxville Manor if she could create a couple of fidget blankets for their day-program dementia clients, who were stuck at home due to the pandemic. Once she started on the designs, Chatterson quickly got into a rhythm and within a week had delivered half a dozen blankets.

“I just Googled them and saw what they were like and thought ‘well, that could be fun’,” recalls Chatterson, who had no idea what a fidget blanket was when the request was made by Maxville Manor. “I was asked to make one or two, but I made half a dozen, because once I got going I loved doing them.”

A fidget blanket is a lap quilt which provides sensory stimulation and entertainment for dementia patients. Each quilt contains a number of objects aimed at stimulating seniors and reducing boredom. Chatterson has been so inspired in designing the blankets that she has created more than 50 in total – donating some to the Glengarry Memorial Hospital’s stroke rehab unit and others to local nursing homes and private individuals.

“I love the creative process, because I make every one different and I just love the process of the placements and the color combinations,” Chatterson says. “I got thinking maybe there are a lot of people who, if they knew about this, could use them.”

To that end, Chatterson has set up the website Hillcrest Stitchery for any organization, hospital or nursing home, or individuals who might require fidget blankets for patients or a loved one. The website features photos of a number of different quilts which are already available and Chatterson will also custom design blankets for individuals who have specific requirements or interests. The blankets are washable and free to anyone who requests one and Chatterson would love to find a home for each and every blanket makes.

“My main reason for (contacting The Review) was to find a home for all of the blankets,” Chatterson emphasized in an email sent to this writer after her interview. “The more I give away the more I can make and I LOVE making them.”

One area where members of the public can help out is with the various supplies required to create each individual blanket. Chatterson has had tremendous support with supplies from friends and neighbors, but it takes a lot of items to make each blanket. Things such as quilted mattress pads for backing, zippers, buttons, fringe, ribbons, cords, beads – just about anything one could imagine can be donated by contacting Chatterson through Hillcrest Stitchery or by phone at 613-525-1336.

Examples of the some of the more than 50 fidget blankets created by Rosemary Chatterson.

Rosemary Chatterson works on one of her fidget blanket designs at home in Alexandria.