LEC lauds sensory boxes as devices 'all long-term care homes should have'
Devices creating positive outcomes for people with cognitive impairment
July 29, 2011
Streamway Villa life enrichment co-ordinator Christina Verleysen says sensory boxes have been long-standing tools that are effective at providing meaningful programming to people affected by cognitive impairment at the Cobourg home. She adds that "all long-term care homes should have them."
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Items with unique appearance, smell and texture are amongst those that work best helping people reminisce, which is important when working with those who have cognitive impairment, says Verleysen.
Sensory boxes have also been successful at providing one-to-one time with residents, especially those with more advanced forms of cognitive impairment.
Sensory boxes are containers holding items that create sensory stimulation. Streamway Villa's life enrichment department changes its sensory boxes frequently to provide people with different experiences.
Items that have shown to be successful with residents include tools, fabric, grass and leaves — "anything that residents will recognize and get them to reminisce," says Verleysen.
Whenever possible, the boxes will be customized to meet specific residents' needs. For example, if a resident was a farmer, staff members will use a sensory box containing farm tools in one-to-one programming.
"Even if they don't say anything, you let them hold (the objects) in their hands . . . and you can prompt a smile, or prompt a laugh," she says.
The results speak for themselves.
"We're finding that a lot of people are coming out of their shells," says Verleysen, adding that sensory boxes have been useful engaging some new residents who have advanced cognitive impairment.
Although some residents can't communicate verbally, "the facial expressions tell you that they're recognizing something."
Most OMNI Health Care homes utilize sensory boxes. Like Streamway Villa, Burnbrae Gardens has found the devices to be effective in providing meaningful programming for residents with cognitive impairment.
Burnbrae is using four boxes filled with items that are theme-related. Currently, the home's life enrichment department is using beach-, baking- and baby-themed sensory boxes, as well as a "men's tool."
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