A multi-sensory room for patients with dementia was launched on October 8, 2002, to coincide with World Mental Health Day.

The multi-sensory room will be used by patients on Ward 17, Priestly Unit, Dewsbury & District Hospital and will help to enhance the assessment and care of people with dementia. Yesterday’s event marked the official opening of the room, alongside a sensory workshop for patients and carers, and a special tea dance to celebrate the event.

Staff at the South West Yorkshire Mental Health NHS Trust have been developing the room for a couple of years and a project team formed in July 2002 to progress earlier work, ensuring the room could be used as a multi-disciplinary therapeutic area. They decided to launch it to coincide with World Mental Health Day, which is celebrated on October 10 2002.

The multi-sensory room is a quiet, relaxing room where the senses of sight, sound, touch and taste can be explored in a non-threatening way. The room is plain with white walls and contains a variety of equipment. Some of the equipment is hi-tech while other items you would find in your own home.

Staff on the ward have clear aims in mind when introducing a patient to the room. They include: facilitating and improving communication; maximising the stimulation of all the senses to improve quality of life and; providing an opportunity for relaxation. Patients on Ward 17 have a unique care plan tailored to their needs, and their experiences in the multi-sensory room will be evaluated after each session.

Individuals with dementia will experience changes in how they interact with the world around them and how they engage in day-to-day activities. This can lead to a decrease in sensory input, a loss of which may lead to withdrawal, apathy and disturbing behaviours. The multi-sensory room on Ward 17 has been developed to try and address these needs and provide enjoyable sensory stimulation.

Nicola Plastow, senior occupational therapist, spoke about yesterday’s launch, ‘It was a really good event and was enjoyed by staff, patients and visitors alike. It is our hope that by using the multi-sensory room we will be able to improve the quality of care and enhance enjoyment of life while patients are on Ward 17. We thought it was important that this event coincided with World Mental Health Day to promote positive messages about mental health problems and reduce the stigma that so often surrounds it’.


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