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Sensory awareness tools a boon to Westford Nursing Home residents

Westford Nursing Home resident George Fillmore enjoys some of the sensory equipment recently acquired by the home and made possible through funding from the Sackville Memorial Hospital Auxiliary.
Westford Nursing Home resident George Fillmore enjoys some of the sensory equipment recently acquired by the home and made possible through funding from the Sackville Memorial Hospital Auxiliary. - Contributed

Sackville Memorial Hospital Auxiliary donates funding for important purchases

PORT ELGIN, N.B. – Residents of Westford Nursing Home are enjoying the pleasures and benefits of some special equipment, thanks to the generosity of the Sackville Memorial Hospital Auxiliary.

The organization recently provided funding to enable the purchase of two types of sensory stimulation equipment as well as make some additions to the music library, to be used both for music therapy and entertainment.

“Due to changes in the abilities, interests and capabilities of the residents, multi-sensory equipment is a wonderful way to go. It has been developed from research and is specialized to connect with residents living with dementia. As well, this equipment is also enjoyed by people who may not be affected by cognitive issues,” Westford’s executive director Patricia Harrington said recently.

She noted that sensory stimulation is intended to bring enjoyment to seniors with dementia, help to reduce anxiety and depression and increase social interaction. And although activities are aimed at seniors, they can still be shared with a caregiver, loved one or therapist.

Harrington explained that the equipment donated by the SMHA includes two separate devices including a portable film-type machine with various colour wheels, that projects colourful shapes on floors, walls or other surfaces; and a large bubble tube.

“Colours created by the projector and wheels trigger memories, for example butterflies and birds seen in childhood. These shared memories create experiences in a positive atmosphere that encourages sharing more memories as they are brought forward,” she explained.

People of all ages are known to enjoy this type of activity, which promotes calmness and tranquility.

Westford’s activity director Barbara Estabrooks added that already the devices have helped residents to relax.

“We tried out different items to determine which would bring the most benefits to our residents. They have found both of the machines to be calming and it opens up dialogue; it engages conversation and they talk to one another more. Sometimes we use the projector in a group setting or at other times, one-on-one. They love it,” she said.

She added that all staff are being trained to use the equipment, and, once the machine is mounted on a portable table, will be able to be used throughout the facility, whether in the lounges or in resident’s rooms.

“It’s efficient to use; there’s no setup involved each time it’s used. Staff will be able to take it to wherever it’s needed and just turn it on,” she said.

The bubble tube, which has been installed in the nursing home’s quiet room is about four feet tall and 12 inches in diameter. When switched on, the tube features bubbles rising all the way up the tube while making the slight popping sounds of real liquid bubbles.

“The bubbles rise and change colours, and it’s very calming for some people. For those who are unable to express themselves verbally, you can tell by their body language if they are enjoying it and if not you can try something else to bring about calmness,” Harrington noted.

She added that it is very rewarding to witness first-hand how this multi-sensory equipment affects a person in such a positive way.

“We all truly appreciate the very generous support of the Sackville Memorial Hospital Auxiliary. It has made a large impact on the lives of our residents,” she said.

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