Many know that for like two years I’ve been trying to work with the clinical director here to set up a comfort or sensory room. A place where residents can go that’s warmly lit/ decorated, with comfortable furniture and can have a focus place to relax. Not relax like watch tv. Many do that all day everyday. Like a place for when someone is very anxious, agitated ETC and can go to try to get their mind off things and settle down. I didn’t really know much about it except I read somewhere about sensory rooms with developmentally disabled people and how calming they were. I then wondered if this had at all been used with other disabilities especially psychiatric.
I wrote a previous post about wanting to get people’s experiences with comfort/ sensory rooms on psych units versus restraint and seclusion. I didn’t go into detail on how to set up such a room, and especially set up such a space at home.
In trying to research this I got in contact with Karen More of the sensory connection program. She pioneered a specific program on how to create and best use these kinds of rooms to teach patients how to self-sooth and carry over these interventions to home. She’s an extremely nice woman and was glad to have in depth correspondence with me.
Below is her website.
So I’ve done a lot of talking with her and have gotten more and more confident that setting up a room would be easier than we ever thought due to the fact that you don’t need a ton of items just stuff that covers all the senses. And it doesn’t have to be expensive though I will say looking at the prices on the list of items she suggested stuff does cost like $30 or more it seemed like. However I didn’t go in depth about researching the price of such items. I keep wanting to talk with Jonathan about it and will send him info. Which he says he’ll read but then important stuff comes up like elevators breaking down, taking residents to court and other huge issues. And speaking of with the expenses of the elavators I doubt Tossi the admin will want to be spending any money on such a room right now. If I had literally any money at all that wasn’t going towards the possibility of getting food when it sucks here, I would try to set up a small space for my friend and I in here.
Hopefully when wwe ever move I will deffinetely have an area devoted to it.
Below are some suggestions to show how easy it might be to set something like this up. Taken from Karen’s materials.
Space should have full spectrum lighting, no colors or bright lights that would irritate the senses. Be in a quiet private area. Be used purely as a relaxation calming space not for sleeping. Half hour times in the morning afternoon or evening. Or before or after stressful event.
Furniture could be comfortable chairs or couches, rocking chair or glider, throw pillows/ blankets, beanbag chair. Visually calming things on the walls, paintings, nature scenes inspirational quotes whatever is comforting for you. Sound machine with as many sound choices as possible, relaxing CDS/ songs, maybe musical instruments like ocean drum, rain sticks chymes ETC. Could use hand lotions, aroma therapy oils or scented stuffed animals for comforting smells. Have different flavors of candy or other things to taste occasionally. Have a basket of stress balls, different textured items. Possible weighted blankets or lap pads, stuffed animals.
You can see how having a nice chair and a small collection of items could be the first step. It doesn’t have to be fancy and maybe some of these items can be homemade. I’ve heard of people making their own weighted blankets for example.
As I said if we had any say in furniture in here or the money to buy even a few things I’d definitely create a space for myself.
Also different people have different sensory needs. I think people being able to experiement and get a feel for what their needs are is important. Some people need total darkness no sound etc. I think the more people are able to carefully experiment with the stuff the more they can find ways that work to calm themselves.
I so wish hospitals would offer this both on medical and psych floors. I still think about those three weeks I spent in 2014 on a unit where there were no stuffed animals, they took away my rock. And my Braille note was unusable because they switched my charger with someone else’s. I had no sensory input tactially which drove me nuts or anything to distract me like reading or even anything to write with. I had nothing and my symptoms went into high gear. Which meant I was kept their longer. Especially at units where for whatever reason they don’t have any group activities to have stuff like this would at least help somewhat.
I would even imagine having a sensory corner in doctor’s office waiting rooms for all ages regardless of disability could be extremely helpful to try and calm anxiety before appointments.
I was recently upset to see a situation where someone would have benifited from a sensory space near them but was denied because they don’t have intellectual disabilities (though they do have other issues that could really benefit having the room for) and the person in charge believed that since the sensory activities couldn’t carry over to home it was useless. I so wish people would think more creatively and not put people/ interventions in a box thinking that a certain intervention or treatment can only be applied to certain disabilities/ sets of concerns. This is limiting for everyone especially someone who could be exposed to positive experience that would affect their over all healing but are denied them.
Would love to hear thoughts on if anyone has set up such a place even if it’s a comforting box of items. I have heard in DBT one is incouraged to do this to a degree for self-soothing.
So I welcome people’s thoughts.