Written by Karen Tee, Project Leader, Mental Health & Substance Use

For the first time in Fraser Health, young people can benefit from an innovative, therapeutic environment known as a Snoezelen™ Room.

Often when a child or adolescent is experiencing a mental health crisis, they feel anxious, frightened and out of control. They don’t always know why they feel this way and they can become upset and agitated and their crisis can escalate.

In the Snoezelen™ room, bubble tubes can light up, a chair can move to the beat of music, a milky-way carpet on the wall can light up when touched. Young patients can crawl up, around and over a square foam cube, project images on the ceiling and the wall, sit or lie on the heated floor, cocoon in a heavy blanket, or relax on an elevated mat that gives a gentle massage. The multi-sensory environment/materials can calm and reduce agitation and anxiety through the use of gentle light, soothing sound, relaxing smell and touch. Or they can stimulate through exciting visuals, music and sounds and textures to explore.

“We are on the leading edge of using this sensory intervention in an acute care setting with children and adolescents, and we’re excited about the many benefits possible with these new tools,” said Carolyn Higgs, CAPSU’s Project Development Nurse.

These benefits, she adds, go far beyond relaxation. “It will be a developmentally-appropriate intervention that supports self-awareness and self-management, that facilitates information processing, and helps staff establish rapport and trust. We want to give them back some control in a safe way and in the Snoezelen™ Room. The only thing they can’t control is the temperature. They lead the way and we pay attention to what they’re giving us in cues regarding what works and doesn’t for them.”

Our goal is awareness and learning of new skills that the child or youth and their families can use after they have gone home.

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