How knitting helps to bring patients and loved ones closer together

When you or a loved one are receiving care from a hospice, time spent apart can be particularly difficult. Though many people want to be by their loved one’s side throughout, that isn’t always possible. 

Volunteers in our community found a way that friends and families can feel like they are with one another every step of the way.

Claire Smith, from Angmering, has been knitting for more than 50 years. The idea came to her in lockdown that, with families unable to visit their loved ones at the hospice, she would knit a pair of love hearts that could fit in the palm of your hand.

Siblings, partners, parents and children can hold one half of the matching pair, with their loved one holding the other.

A woman staring at camera

Above: image of Claire outside the hospice

‘People really take comfort in them’

Claire said, ‘I started doing charms in lockdown. I’ve always done little things.

‘During lockdown everyone was a bit miserable, so I thought I’ll just hang some little things around the village.  

‘Pictures of them started to appear on Facebook in the village and before long I appeared in the village magazine. 

‘Then my sister, who is a bereavement counsellor at St Barnabas House, said they were looking for knitted hearts for St Barnabas because visiting was very limited due to lockdown restrictions. 

‘I contacted them and began knitting. Initially they only wanted hearts, but I eventually snuck a few rainbows in.

‘When they liked those, I did some little dogs and cats. Since then, I’ve done seasonal designs for Christmas, Easter and Halloween too.’ 


A person looks at the camera

Above: image of Elaine

‘Our families love it’

For many families at St Barnabas House, the love hearts can play an important and emotional role in their experience at a hospice.  

Elaine Hall, Team Leader of the Patient and Family Support Team said, ‘Our families love it.

‘The feedback that we usually get is that while it is only a little thing, what it represents is huge and it can be so personal.  

‘People pick their favourite colour, spray it with perfume, place them into memory boxes for children.  

‘It’s so simple but if you’re sitting there next to the bed of your loved one who has just come into the hospice, you have no idea what’s going to happen or when, but people can really take comfort in small things like the knitted hearts.’ 

For many people, it can also be comforting to know that people out in the community are thinking of them, and offering their own support, even if they don’t know each other. 

‘People are quite humbled that somebody like Claire or the other volunteers sit and make these things and go to the extent of decorating them — they get huge comfort from it.’