The use of sensory rooms in acute inpatient mental health care settings, discussion help
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The use of sensory rooms in acute inpatient mental health care settings incorporating a variety of sensory modulation approaches and modalities is used to engage in meaningful therapeutic activities and in recognizing the inter-relatedness and importance of the therapeutic use of self and physical environment. Offering humane and self nurturing choices for prevention and crisis de-escalation is essential and afforded in an organized and safe manner through therapeutic exchanges in sensory modulation rooms. Sensory Rooms provide an environment that nurtures the body and invites the person to engage in activities that help them to feel good and to focus on strengths and interests and personal self-care. Activities are success oriented, failure-free and chosen by the individual. For some clients this may mean listening to soothing music, rocking in a chair, relaxing while watching an aquarium display, listening to books on tape, engaging in activities such as word searches, or cuddling up in a beanbag chair.
Impact on Clinical Aspect
Sensory input has a powerful impact on the nervous system and must be used with care and supervision by knowledgeable staff trained in the use of sensory modalities. For others it might be a place to use grounding techniques which require alerting stimuli such as a scent box or hot ball candy; once the person feels oriented and grounded, the room serves as a place for self-soothing. The relationship between sensation, arousal and emotion has been described as dynamic and non-linear, making it difficult to determine causal relationships. Sensory modulation problems are exacerbated by the sympathetic nervous system response, which is often over-reactive in people who are diagnosed with mental health conditions. This may create a dynamic of increasing arousal paralleled with decreasing regulation of sensory input. Sensory interventions are viewed by both staff and service users as being effective in modulating distress and promoting calm. Key outcomes of sensory modulation were identified and all of which support de-escalation of distress such as:
- Sensory modulation is an effective tool for inducing a calm state in the majority of people that used it.
- Sensory modulation supported the rapid building of trust and rapport for both service users and staff members. Sensory modulation facilitated the development of service users’ self-management, increasing their awareness and ability to regulate their own emotional levels.
- Help to create a safe space
- Facilitate the therapeutic alliance
- Provide opportunities for engagement in prevention and crisis de-escalation strategies, as well as a host of other therapeutic exchanges (to teach skills, offer a variety of therapeutic activities, etc.)
- Promote self-care/self-nurturance, resilience & recovery
Impact on Financial Aspect
Financially, the project is directly impacted due to the need for funding in order to facilitate use of the sensory/comfort room. An application for funding will have to be made so that equipment could be ordered or modified and a standardized set of equipment should be made available for appropriate patients. Indirectly, staff member will have to be trained and protocol will have to be in place in order to develop leadership in the implementation of the project. Costing the department some paid education hours for staff members.