Multi sensory environments (MSE) in dementia care: the role of design

Jakob, Anke and Collier, Lesley (2013) Multi sensory environments (MSE) in dementia care: the role of design. In: ISNA - MSE International Conference; 01 - 02 Nov 2013, Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Unpublished)


Multisensory environmental design has long been at the discretion of our industrial partners. However, very little research has considered the impact of design on engagement and well-being (Collier et al., 2010; Anderson et al., 2011). This paper presents the preliminary findings from an interdisciplinary study funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, UK. This study aims to explore the quality of multi-sensory stimulation offered in homes caring for residents living with dementia, and whether design can help to improve such experiences and maximise therapeutic benefits. Within this context the research examines strategies of providing specific sensory experiences – focusing on Multi Sensory Environments (MSEs), their design, and their demanding role within homes caring for residents living with dementia. MSEs are widely used in dementia care as both a resource for meaningful leisure activity and a therapeutic intervention. However, evidence suggests that they often fail to succeed because of inadequate design and arrangements not addressing the specific needs of people with dementia or older people in general (Cruz et al., 2011; Dalke et al., 2011; Klages et al., 2011). In particular, the project investigates the aesthetic and functional qualities of MSE facilities such as material/colour/imagery applied, spatial set up, usability, accessibility - currently provided in care homes, with the aim to establish reasons for success and failure. The study involves 15 care homes with some type of MSE facility. Data will be collected using an ethnographic design incorporating structured interviews with care staff who are familiar with the MSE and observations from the point of view of the individual. The results of this study will provide valuable information on how improved overall design of MSEs could add value to the experience maximising the benefit for users and their carers. Subsequently, this will inform the development of design ideas for MSE facilities tailored towards people with dementia and their needs. References: Anderson, K., Bird, M., MacPherson, S., McDonough, V., & Davis, T. (2011). Findings from a Pilot Investigation of the Effectiveness of a Snoezelen Room in Residential Care: Should We Be Engaging with Our Residents More? Geriatric Nursing, 32, 166-177. Collier, L. McPherson, K. Ellis-Hill, C. Bucks, R. The use of multi-sensory environments to improve in older people with dementia: a randomised controlled trial. American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and other Dementias. 25(8), 2010, 698-703. Cruz, J., Marques, A., Barbosa, A. L., Figueiredo, D., & Sousa, L. (2011). Effects of a Motor and Multisensory-Based Approach on Residents with Moderate-to-Severe Dementia. American Journal of Alzheimers Disease and Other Dementias, 26, 282-289 Dalke, H., Corso, A., Stott, L., Dusmohamed, H., & Hunt, R. (2011). Living with Dementia: Can Design make a difference? Kingston University, 282-289 Klages, K., Zecevic, A., Orange, J. B., & Hobson, S. (2011). Potential of Snoezelen room multisensory stimulation to improve balance in individuals with dementia: a feasibility randomized controlled trial. Clinical Rehabilitation, 25, 607-616

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