According to Science Daily - A new guide has shed fresh light on the positive impact multi-sensory environments can have when caring for people with dementia. The guide contains advice about different materials and tools that can be used to stimulate senses, such as scents like lavender to relax and calm, sounds from the great outdoors and foods with particular flavours. These can all help to improve mood, trigger memories and engage people living with dementia. new guide developed by two British academics has shed fresh light on the positive impact multi-sensory environments can have when caring for people with dementia.
The publication, How to make a sensory room for people living with dementia, has been unveiled as part of the Inside Out Festival, which showcases contributions universities make to the English capital's cultural life. Produced by researchers Dr Anke Jakob, from London's Kingston University, and Dr Lesley Collier, from the University of Southampton, the guide highlights the importance of having a space specifically designed to meet the needs of people living with the condition.
Sensory rooms provided gentle stimulation of sight, sound, touch, taste, smell and movement in a controlled way, Dr Jakob explained. "They can 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," she said. "Traditionally, these spaces have been geared more towards younger adults and children with physical or learning disabilities. However, our approach emphasises the benefits of addressing all the senses to support residents diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia in a care home environment. Soft textiles, familiar everyday objects, interesting things to smell and taste, sound and film can all have an important part to play in that process."
The guide contains advice about different materials and tools that can be used to stimulate senses, such as scents like lavender to relax and calm, sounds from the great outdoors and foods with particular flavours. These can all help to improve mood, trigger memories and engage people living with dementia.
Maizie Mears-Owen, Head of Dementia at Care UK, acted as an advisor on the project and provided the researchers with access to homes and multi-sensory environments within the organisation's network. "We fully appreciate the need for meaningful stimulation and creating relaxing, calming spaces where people living with dementia can 'just be'," she said. "Although LED lights have been shown to have a positive impact on residents' mood and behaviour, we mustn't forget the more subtle ways in which people are naturally stimulated through sounds, taste, scents and touch -- all of which can have a more emotive impact than sight."
Top tips from the guide, which is available to download free of charge from www.kingston.ac.uk/sensoryroom, include:
- Create a space that is accessible and safe, both with and without supervision
- Bring the outdoors inside with a water feature, plants, shells, conkers and stone
- Old films with simpler plots can help prompt memories
- Scents can help stimulate a mood, such as lavender to relax and calm
- Introduce tactile stimulation through cushions made from various materials, with buttons, pockets, ribbons and zips
- Ensure items are age appropriate and familiar
- Music played in the background can improve mood and helps to engage care residents
- Don't forget taste as a sensory component as it can help prompt memories and emotion
- Having familiar personal items on display can help an individual settle and relax before engaging in activity
- Ensure the sensory room or space is a comfortable temperature and has good air quality through regular airing or using an air conditioning unit