Apr 17, 2018

Sensory experiences in aged care: “We often underestimate the power of our senses”

If you have visited Braemar Cooinda in Melville recently; you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve stepped into a beautiful forest thanks to new wall decals in the facilities’ lifts.

Linking the various floors at Cooinda, the lifts were originally installed in a standard stainless steel cladding.

However resident feedback suggested a preference for something more decorative, leading to Braemar investigating ways in which to improve the sensory experience for those living at Cooinda.

Sensory stimulation can connect people to our distant memories and happy times. Additionally, as people age, their vision can be challenged; while consideration needed to be taken to support those living with Dementia at Braemar.

“In going about our daily lives we often underestimate the power of our senses and if an environment is cold or clinical it frightens us and can provoke anxiety.

Bright colours and pictures can stimulate ageing eyes and alleviate some of this anxiety.” Comments Michelle Harris-Allsop, Dementia Consultant at Care Partnerships Australia.

Photographic images of a forest-scene inside the elevators at Braemar Cooinda aims to address these issues; with the vibrant green colours bringing a sense of peace and relaxation as people enter and exit the lifts.

“New imagery at Braemar Cooinda provides stimulation, promotes conversation and creative expression which is important for people living with a cognitive disability such as Dementia,” comments Ms. Harris-Allsop.

“The sounds of the doors closing and the movement in the lift can create anxiety for some people living with dementia. Removing the institutional images of a cold and bold elevator space and inserting these beautiful images of the outside world brings a sense of joy and peace.”

Ms. Harris-Allsop, who has over a decade of experience in supporting those living with Dementia, assisted Braemar in the selection of the decal imagery.

She says that people living with a cognitive disability such as dementia live in the moment, and advocates creating a special experience via pictures, touch, smell, taste or hearing’ which be reassuring and help a person with dementia to feel included in a conversation.

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