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From one home to another: Lendlease resident makes homemade twiddle muffs for Catholic Healthcare clients

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Myra Smith is no knit-smith, but her heart was immediately knotted when she saw the opportunity to create homemade woolen accessories for dementia residents living with Catholic Healthcare.

Myra first heard about the accessory, affectionately named Twiddle Muffs, from Catholic Healthcare’s Strategic Business Manager, Brita van Heyst, who was holding an event at Myra’s retirement village in early 2018.

Brita has been an integral element of success since Catholic Healthcare’s partnership with Lendlease in September 2017. Catholic Healthcare offers various programs to those living in Lendlease’s Retirement Villages across New South Wales, like the Falls Prevention program, Walking with Confidence which Brita has assisted in the rollout of.

When Brita saw Myra’s craft group embroidering, she suggested the Twiddle Muffs as a new philanthropic opportunity the group could take on.

“We’d been doing blanket squares for a while, and we even did these gorgeous jackets for penguins!” laughs Myra. “But after a while, the group was getting bored with the same projects, so this was a great new thing to try.”

Myra started working on the Muffs as quickly as she could, eventually reaching 10 individually decorated and personally embroidered Twiddle Muffs.

The Twiddle Muffs have been renowned for their positive impact on people living with dementia – provided by the sensory stimulation received in ‘twiddling’ their various textures.

“I feel whatever I do at craft, I want it to be something that goes somewhere,” says Myra.

“It gives a real purpose to what we do.”

Myra has lived in the Glenaeon Village, a Lendlease Retirement Village, since 2010, when she arrived in Australia from Rotterdam, Holland where she had been living for the past decade.

Myra says she came to Australia to be closer to her daughter and grandchildren, who were living in Killara.

“I wanted to be close to them, but not in their pocket,” she says. “And I just thought, how are you supposed to make friends if you are tucked away in your own granny cottage? Living here – it just made sense.”

Eight years on, it still makes sense to Myra as she’s truly embraced the retirement living lifestyle – sitting on the social committee, craft group, and leading activities like raffles, market days and weekly ‘nibbles and drinks’ for the village of over 400 residents.

“We do a lot here, but it’s the life we love,” says a smiling Myra.

Myra is hoping to personally gift her Twiddle Muffs to the residents of Catholic Healthcare’s Dementia Specific Unit next week.