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Sensory Suite at Parkside Learning Disability Day Centre

Parkside is a registered charity based in Aldershot. The charity provides support services for children and adults with learning disabilities living in the local area, covering both Hampshire and Surrey.

In 1963 the charity was founded when a group of parents who had children with special needs identified the need for this support, with it being very limited at this time.

Parkside’s mission is to give both children and adults the opportunity to develop their individual skills and to take part in activities within the local community. Needs can vary from requiring support to socialise with friends, to participating in leisure activities, meeting new people, to developing life skills and providing respite for other family members. By reaching out into the community, Parkside aims to develop and strengthen its links with local people and organisations, creating opportunities for everyone to become involved and included.

Why Parkside identified the need for a Sensory Room refresh?

Over the years the team at Parkside built up their sensory room using a variety of products from differing sensory suppliers as funds became available.

Parkside became aware that their current provision looked tired and they needed a complete refresh of their sensory room. They began fundraising and applying for grants to raise the funds to be able to complete their sensory wish.

Parkside contacted Rhino UK in early 2015 and discussed their requirements and what the sensory space needed to achieve. With the learning centre attracting users with a mixture of disabilities and needs, the sensory space needed to accommodate ages 0-65 and a mixture of abilities.

What happened next?

Parkside contacted Rhino UK as they had by now raised all the funds to be able to proceed with the new Sensory Room. Rhino UK then visited the charity to carry out a full consultation, to get a complete understanding of the needs of the users of the sensory equipment and to undergo a survey of the room to identify the space the team had to work with.

Rhino UK then came up with the design of the room they believed would be most suitable for the users’ needs and proposed this to the team at Parkside alongside other sensory companies. Rhino UK were chosen as a result of their custom design and the offering of the best solution for The Parkside Centre’s requirements.

The Sensory Room Design

Rhino UK created a room full of exciting, stimulating sensory equipment which enables a user to get in touch with all of their senses.

Each corner is dedicated to individual sensory activities each being interactive in a different way, enabling the room to be used by numerous users with a variety of needs at one time. The centre wanted to ensure the room was accessible for wheel chairs and for it to be used for other activities and space for extra resources in the future.

Rhino UK re-configured the electrics for the sensory equipment within the room and installed a control panel for easy control of all of the equipment in one place.

Corner one has a ball pool illuminated which automatically changes colour and diffuses through the transparent balls. The soft steps and slide allow access in and out of the pool. Ball pools offer a fantastic opportunity of sensory stimulation providing safety and support for the body whilst allowing movement during touch contact on the whole body. Alongside this is an interactive wall with two sound sensitive wall panels providing differing light shows. The ladder lights gives out light shows in straight lines. Whereas the infinity tunnel provides a mesmerising light show of circular infinity. A great space to develop speech and language skills and explore cause and effect.

Corner two has an interactive bubble column complete with colour controller buttons sat in a podium with a single waterbed alongside it. This corner is a great space to encourage relaxation and visual stimulation. The bubble column helps develop cause and effect skills and colour recognition. The heated waterbed moulds itself to the shape of the user’s body giving unrestricted support without pressure points and, the gentle support by water allows even the slightest movement to be felt.

Corner three is an area for exploration with UV light effects and tactile panels. There is a black and white play mat which glows beautifully under the UV lighting in the room, enabling the user to climb all over it to discover the different shapes. The walls house two different UV reactive tactile panels for glowing tactile exploration.

The Outcome

The overall multi-sensory room design and installation resulted in a complete interactive, stimulating, beautiful sensory environment.

The team at Parkside are delighted with the sensory room re-fit and the users are getting great pleasure out of the room on a daily basis.