Creating multi-sensory environments

Categories: Care.

Gemma Allen, Inclusion and Diversity Lead at Mary Stevens Hospice in Stourbridge, writes about developing more inclusive services for patients with multi-sensory equipment.

The Mary Stevens Hospice have been working toward developing services to provide care that is more inclusive for patients, carers, visitors, staff, and volunteers. As part of a wider diversity and inclusion project we highlighted a lack of stimulating, sensory spaces for people with cognitive and visual impairments, anxiety, dementia and learning disabilities.

Grant applications were submitted for purchasing specialist equipment, primarily to aid, enhance, and support more people accessing Mary Stevens. In total we were overwhelmed to receive over £20,000 for the learning disability and dementia projects, enabling us to reach out to more people in our community through developing easy to read information, including an Advance Care Plan, and having equipment tailored to support and meet the needs of more people.

For accessibility purposes and to support more people at any given time it was decided to purchase a range of mobile equipment, rather than a static sensory room. Therefore, equipment can be used in various settings and is accessible in our In-Patient Unit, Day Services, and Family Support. Likewise, we have the choice to use a specified room and set up a fixed sensory space if the need arises or when running group activities.

The equipment consists of a deluxe sensory unit, containing bubble tubes, lights, an aroma diffuser, music and projector. The mobile bubble tubes, a second projector, LED lights, aroma diffusers, VR headset, weighted duvets, a sensory chair and a variety of projector wheels were all purchased. In addition we bought clocks, weighted dolls, communication aids, books, photo symbols software, and other resources.

A weighted sensory chair and footstool has received extremely positive feedback from patients and staff in the Day Services unit. The chair stimulates the senses, providing feelings of safety and security, enveloping and calming the user. Filled with plastic balls in the seat, back and wing, the pressure from the balls stimulates tactile, muscle, and joint sensations, sending impulses to the central nervous system. This results in greater bodily awareness and improved feelings of wellbeing. We hope the chair, in addition to other equipment, will be frequently used by both adults and children at Mary Stevens Hospice.

Ruth Davies, Day Services Co-ordinator, explains further:

“We have used the chair with a patient living with dementia when he became restless. I had tried it myself and found it comforting, but even so I was really surprised how quick the calming effect was for our patient.”

We would like to express our thanks to The Morrisons Foundation, The Boshier Hinton Foundation, The Lynn Foundation, The February Foundation, The McLay Dementia Trust and The Baily Thomas Trust.

Mary Stevens Hospice, in partnership with Birmingham City University, will be launching the Palliative Care and Learning Disabilities Regional Network during May 2019. If you work in either palliative care or learning disability sector, self-advocacy, have a learning disability or care for someone with a learning disability and would be interested in joining please contact Gemma Allen or call 01384 443010.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *