Unveiling a new guide for care homes, Dr. Anke Jakob, from Kingston University London, and Dr. Lesley Collier, from the University of Southampton, shed new light on the positive impact multi-sensory environments can have when caring for people living with dementia. This guide highlights the need for having a space specifically designed for people living with dementia.
A sensory room is a room that provides gentle stimulation of sight, sound, touch, taste, smell and movement in a controlled way, Dr. Jakob explained. “They are used to enhance feelings of comfort and well-being, relieve stress and pain and maximise a person’s potential to focus, all of which help improve communication and memory.”
These were developed from research studies undertaken at both Kingston University and the University of Southampton. Researchers found that while most care facilities have one, more sensory rooms go unused. “Reasons for this varied – some were not set up in a way that appealed to residents, some staff did not feel the spaces would benefit the people they looked after and sometimes care workers had not been shown how to use the equipment,” Dr. Jakob said.
Other research being done at University of Southampton found that if a sensory environment was adapted to individual needs, improvement in performance, mood and behavior could be achieved. “Results showed that 74 per cent of people who took part in the study improved in motor performance – their ability to undertake everyday tasks – and 63 per cent improved in cognitive tasks – their ability to remember, problem solve and judge what to do in everyday activities,” Dr. Collier said.
This guide pulls together what is already being done in care facilities internationally and builds upon it to create a new framework. “We hope the guide will help care homes develop appropriate environments for their residents but also that other people who care for friends or relatives with dementia can draw inspiration from it so they can improve the lives of their loved ones.”