Complex continuing care patient Obi Ezemenari enjoys a multi-sensory therapy session with Recreation Therapist Kandace Assivero. Always feeling relaxed after his session, Ezemenari always listens to music by Michael Jackson with his personal favourite being, You Rock My World.
People with physical and cognitive impairments often feel trapped in their bodies, unable to fully express their emotions like joy, anxiety or frustration. Recognizing the need to provide patients with a therapeutic outlet, the new hospital will have three multi-sensory rooms to help patients de-stress, provide stimulation, and to some degree, take back control of their surroundings.
“Multi-sensory environments and sensory-based interventions offer patient-specific, goal-oriented outcomes that are unlike any other treatment option,” says Kandace Assivero, Recreation Therapist. “They are a great alternative for patients who cannot often participate in other leisure opportunities and allows these individuals to experience positive stimulation and interaction.
An increase from one to three of these incredible sensory rooms will not only serve more patients, but significantly add value to their therapeutic experience and quality of life.”
The specialized rooms will be approximately 300 square feet each, more than doubled the size of the current room. The larger room size will enable West Park to accommodate more individuals comfortably in a room, creating a more inviting space for patients, families and visitors to enjoy.
Accessibility is also a key element to the space. The rooms will have a patient lift, so patients can be transferred from their wheelchair into a vibrating, massage chair.
Recreation Therapists will continue to provide multi-sensory treatment for patients in the new building. Patients and their recreation therapists can access any of the multi-sensory rooms, which will be located on:
- Level 1 next to the Acquired Brain Injury and Acquired Brain Injury Behavioural Services units
- Level 4 in the shared therapy space between the Long Term Ventilation units
- Level 6 in the shared therapy space between the Complex Continuing Care units
West Park’s new therapy pool will also have the ability to create a multi-sensory experience.
The therapeutic environments are commonly known as Snoezelen, which originated from the Netherlands about 50 years ago. The word Snoezelen combines the Dutch verbs “snufflelen,” meaning to seek and explore, and “doezelen,” meaning to relax.
Offering a relaxed atmosphere, multi-sensory rooms are also impactful for people of varying cognitive abilities, dementia and older persons. The rooms generally have various equipment to provide opportunities for interaction and engagement of the senses like lights, colour, music, aromas, vibrations and tactile objects.
"Our vision with these new additional spaces is to have opportunities for collaboration with other practitioners, with patients and their families - for more people to have access to the space and experience the benefits," says Assivero.