Creating An Anti-Ligature Sensory Room

What Is Anti-Ligature?

Anti-ligature, in its simplest form, means that something cannot be used by someone to ligature (bind or tie).

Ligatures pose a risk in many different environments, especially those where people would wish to self-harm. Therefore, it’s important that spaces are safe from ligature risk.

Anti-Ligature Sensory Rooms are specially designed spaces that pose no or very low ligature risk. Sensory Resources in these spaces are typically firmly embedded in walls and ceilings or covered with robust casing so that they’re safe and out of the way, ready for sensory play!

Anti-Ligature sensory room in a mental health environment. With LED Sky Ceiling panels, bubble tube, and soft sensory wall and floor padding.


Where Are Anti-Ligature Sensory Rooms Needed?

Even though Anti-Ligature Sensory Rooms are specialist spaces, many environments can benefit from their secure designs.

From SEN Schools that need to protect vulnerable students to Mental Health Centres where patients may be at a higher risk of self-harm. Choosing an anti-ligature sensory room is a great way to ensure safety and comfort.

Suitable Environments For Anti-Ligature Sensory Rooms:

  • Mental Health Centres
  • Hospitals
  • Secure Children’s Homes
  • Supported Living Facilities
  • SEN Schools
  • Prisons

Anti-Ligature sensory room in a mental health environment. Immersive reality room with cosy beanbags and distracting bubble wall.


Why Are Sensory Rooms Needed In These Environments?

Sensory Rooms are an asset for ligature-risk settings as they provide a neutral space to find calm, therapeutically relax, and reset.

Classically, sensory rooms are used by children with autism to help rebalance their senses and self-regulate their behaviour.

But sensory rooms have lots of other clinical benefits:

  • Improving Mental Health & Wellbeing
    • Sensory Rooms offer a safe space away from wards, busy classrooms and clinical settings. They’re controlled environments where individuals can customise their experience to suit their needs. Whether that’s dimming the lights, putting on their favourite playlist, or watching Netflix on a big projector screen.
    • It gives people the space to spend time with themselves without the judgement of others – so they can find calm and relax, boosting their mental health and wellbeing.
  • Effective at De-Escalation
    • Whether it’s other people, settings or stimulants, it’s essential that individuals on the verge of an incident can quickly and safely de-escalate.
    • Sensory Rooms offer a neutral space for individuals to release their emotions safely and independently. Soft padding creates a safe and cosy backdrop for physical outbursts; bubble tubes and sensory lights stimulate and distract anxious minds, whilst soft rocking chairs offer individuals a place to actively work out their worries.
  • Reducing Self Harm
    • With a safe space to effectively de-escalate and support their mental health, it’s been found that individuals who have access to sensory rooms are less likely to self-harm.
    • Academics agree that sensory rooms in mental health settings reduce distress and reduce the need for seclusion and restraint (Machingura et al. 2018; Scanlan & Novack 2015; Oostermeijer et al. 2021)

Anti-Ligature sensory room in a mental health environment. With vibrating bumpers, cosy beanbag seating, LED Wall Wash and safety floor and wall padding.


Who Can Use Anti-Ligature Sensory Rooms?

  • Patients: To regulate their behaviour, relax, socialise and spend their free time
  • Staff: To work with patients and for their own mental health breaks
  • Families: For visits and meetings


How Do You Make A Sensory Room Ligature Safe?

Making a sensory room ligature safe isn’t too hard of a task. It just requires forward thinking, planning and a team of sensory specialists!

With an anti-ligature sensory room design, you need to make sure there are:

  • No Ligature Points
    • House resources in robust casing, or swap out classic products for ligature-safe ones (e.g. swapping fibre optics for LED wall wash lights)
  • Minimal Gaps Between Products & Walls
    • Ensure resources sit flush against walls or the ceiling or are securely embedded into safety padding.
  • Small Perforations In Ventilation Grills
    • Give radiators + electronic items space to breathe without creating new ligature risks.
  • Minimal Joints
    • Create bespoke sensory areas that are firmly fitted and made for use. This may include boxing in resources or designing made-to-measure furniture.
  • Hard-Wearing Equipment That Can’t Be Broken Or Weaponised
    • Our collection of sensory resources is robust and made for tough sensory play. See below which items we’d recommend for anti-ligature sensory rooms.
  • No Obstructions
    • The room doesn’t have any sharp edges or corners – whether that’s done with clever design, safety padding or corner protectors.

If you’re thinking about creating an anti-ligature sensory room in your environment, get in touch with a member of our friendly sensory team! They’ll be more than happy to get you started on your sensory journey.


What Sensory Equipment Should I Put In An Anti-Ligature Sensory Room?

When it comes to celebrating senses, an anti-ligature sensory room should be no different to a standard one. Mental Health Sensory Integrations should stimulate, calm and engage all five senses in a controlled and personal manner, safely and comfortably.

It’s crucial to choose robust sensory resources that pose little or no ligature risk and are safe for sensory play.

Our sensory team, alongside the Director of Occupational Therapy at Cygnet, have put together our top resources suitable for anti-ligature sensory environments.

  • Interactive Wall Panels
    • Interactive Wall Panels are highly engaging multi-sensory panels that stimulate visual, tactile, sound and cognitive senses.
    • These can be installed closely to walls or embedded into padding, significantly reducing ligature risk.
  • Interactive Floor or Wall Projection
    • Sitting high on ceilings, our interactive projectors instantly create magical interactive worlds on floors and walls. They encourage individuals to get active and use their bodies and senses to engage with the projected games and activities.
    • Safely kept out of the way, these projectors are an ideal all-in-one sensory aid for anti-ligature sensory rooms.
  • Wall Wash
    • LED Wall Wash strips bathe areas in calming sensory mood lighting. They allow individuals the opportunity to create a colourful environment to match their mood.
    • Sitting flush against the wall and ceiling, they’re kept up high and away from curious hands.
  • Therapy Rockers
    • Offer individuals a cosy place to sit, relax, and work out their worries.
    • Made from robust, zip-free, hard-wearing materials with heavy use in mind.
  • Vibrating Bumpers
    • A soft, padded bumpy wall that vibrates when touched. They’re a great interactive piece of soft play equipment to add to therapeutic environments.
    • Made to measure interactive bumpers provide sustained gentle vibrations that soothe proprioceptive systems and calm minds.

Remember! Every sensory room should be unique. When choosing equipment, it’s important that you choose resources that are suitable for your staff and end users. Get in touch with our friendly sensory team for more information.


Further Information

*Not all images in this blog represent Anti-Ligature Sensory Rooms. Some are calming rooms or de-escalation spaces in mental health environments. For more information get in touch with our friendly sensory team 🙂