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20 April 2019

Mental Health and Calming Rooms

by Alexandra Hooson

There is so much more to the world of ‘Sensory’ than people may originally think. A ‘Sensory Room’ is an umbrella term used to categorise a variety of sensory spaces that are specially designed to have a positive impact on specific needs or disabilities.

Recently it has become increasingly apparent how beneficial sensory rooms can be for people suffering with a mental illnesses, within schools, care units, prisons and many other rehabilitation centres incorporating sensory solutions into their environments.

Calming rooms are the most commonly used sensory rooms for this nature of illness.

What is and why a calming room?
The main purpose of a sensory room is to create an environment where outside every day distractions are removed and relaxation and concentration is encouraged. Unlike a sensory room, a calming room’s main objective is not to stimulate but provide a gentle road to a mental escape, in a safe and secure environment.

Creating an environment in which internal behavioural control is valued, taught and rewarded…

There are two important things to remember. Only use a sensory room before or after a crisis, NEVER during! And each room is designed for personal, one on one staff to client engagement.

The benefits of a calming room:

  • Creates a safe space
  • Facilitates a therapeutic alliance
  • Increase the ability to self-nurture
  • Increase resilience
  • Increase self-esteem and body image
  • Increase the ability to engage in meaningful life roles
  • Increase the ability to engage in social activities
  • Increase ability to cope with triggers.

Ways to use the room?

  • Proactively to prevent a crisis situation
  • Responsively after a crisis to de-escalate and problem solve
  • Sensory Modulation – Self Regulation- Awareness of the different strategies we use to self-organise in order to functionally engage in meaningful life activities.

Over the years there have been many debates and mixed opinions on seclusion methods vs multi-sensory therapies. Here are a few points to consider:

Seclusion Isolates:

  • The patient spends less time in education (classroom / social environment)
  • They are often left triggered and very little is learned
  • The message is “I am alone and I have to deal with this situation all by myself”
  • More frustration, anger or irrational thoughts and behaviour.

Multi-Sensory Engages:

  • Sensory calming rooms engage both the staff and the user physically and cognitively
  • It teaches positive / pro-social skills over time
  • The message is “this person wants to help me at my worst time, I have choice on how to deal with this moving forward and try and take control of my emotions”
  • Improves engagement in education in and out of the sensory room.

How can you recognise early warning signs of a meltdown?

  • Do you know your clients low level cues?
  • How do you normally respond to them?
  • Do you think your response affects escalation?
  • Start making mental notes of early warning signs to better prepare yourself for when to intervene to prevent further escalation.

It is important that your calming room incorporates a mixture of the following resources to suit a number of user needs and to stimulate mentally and physically:

Click on the links to view the products in more details.

Mental Health covers such a wide spectrum and there are so many different therapies and sensory solutions available to help, but sometimes it can prove very difficult for the carer to decide which direction is best to go in for their patient. This is where companies like Rhino UK can help, with over 40 years’ experience in creating sensory environments for a wide variety of needs and circumstances. If we can be of any further assistance in helping you to decide on the best solutions please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Editor: Alexandra Eardley, Marketing Manager Rhino Uk

Rhino UK
Millbuck Way
Springvale Industrial Estate
CW11 3HT

Call: 01270 766660