Number 52 in our countdown of '70 Ways Art Improves Our Health' highlights how the arts can help calm or stimulate people with dementia…

Sensory rooms, or Multi-Sensory Environments, are places for people living with dementia to safely explore all five senses.

Academics from Kingston University London and the University of Southampton unveiled a guide for care home design in 2014. Maizie Mears-Owen, Head of Dementia at Care UK, acted as an advisor on the project and provided the researchers with access to homes in the Care UK network. As a result of the research, Care UK embraced an integrated approach to creating multi-sensory environments in their homes.

[Sensory rooms] can enhance feelings of comfort and wellbeing, relieve stress and pain and maximize a person’s potential to focus, all of which help improve communication and memory.

Dr Anke Jakob

In 2015, the Department of Health issued further design guidance on layout and sensory properties of health and social care environments for people with dementia. They advised spaces for music and singing, as well as the installation of artwork.

An example of a Multi-Sensory Environment

“Artwork can support people with dementia to live a life as close as possible to how they were living prior to the onset of dementia (e.g. eat, sleep, dress and do activities); objects of art can help overcome sensory, cognitive and physical impairments.”

This week sees the Imagination Cafe arrive our Menier Gallery, spreading the word and exploring creative, evidence-based approaches to dementia care. The weeklong pop-up will also showcase the artwork of people living with dementia. Find out more here.

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