A symbol of the values that guide our care

April 23rd, 2024

The knitted hearts – lovingly made by volunteers or staff members and donated to the hospice – are a special way to connect patients and their loved ones, even when they are apart.

Mary Potter Hospice staff with a basked of donated knitted hearts

Now an ongoing initiative, ‘Holding Hearts’ started back in 2021 when Occupational Therapist Linda entered Mary Potter Hospice in the Hospice OT Yarn Bombing Competition, with hospices all over New Zealand entering their colourful and creative projects.

Mary Potter Hospice's knitted teddybear picnic

“We did a teddy bear’s picnic scene with lots of colourful knitted hearts as our yarn bombing entry. I also wanted to do something within our hospice that had ongoing meaning and I thought the hearts could be the start of a really good future resource for our patients and families,” Linda explains.

“The challenge was carefully created to be mindful of the hospice’s resources, and symbolises the values that guide our care which is in the centre of everything we do.”

“Whilst Mary Potter Hospice didn’t win the challenge, we had these lovely teddy bears that could be gifted to younger ones in our services in need of a ‘teddy hug’ to support them through the tough times.”

“The knitted hearts – inspired by the NHS in the UK to bring families comfort during pandemic restrictions – are used to connect patients and their loved ones when they are apart. Holding a heart in your hands for a few minutes infuses them with love and warmth before gifting it to someone special.”

The beautiful ritual has grown into all parts of Mary Potter Hospice over the years.

“One of our patients has really missed meaningful occupation and having a purpose since moving into residential care,” says Tanya, Mary Potter Hospice Clinical Educator. “She still wanted to be useful, and hearing about the knitted hearts she knew this is something she wanted to be a part of.”

Hospice staff really came together to help make it happen, explains Tanya: “Since the patient wasn’t able to get to the shops, our Retail Director Peter went around the hospice shops to source wool and stuffing for her, and she’s been creating beautiful hearts and other knitted items – hats and fingerless mittens – ever since, which are shared with our patients and their families.”

“This is just one example to show how meaningful Linda’s initiative of the knitted hearts really is,” says Tanya, “It encompasses all our values and connects people in the most unexpected ways.”

You can download the knitting pattern below to knit hearts for yourself, your loved ones, or as a donation to Mary Potter Hospice: