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Oomph! Sensory Series: Experiencing the World

By April 16, 2020No Comments

During unprecedented times and at a time when the care sector is being affected enormously by the current Coronavirus situation, resident wellbeing is even more important than ever.  As part of this Oomph! are keen to support care homes with stimulating and varied content for resident engagement. We will be releasing resources based on our Oomph! skills workshops. These resources, and more, will be uploaded to our Wellbeing Resources Hub.

The first topic in our Sensory mini-series is: Experiencing the World through the senses. 

Engaging different senses will enable you to person center activities to different needs, abilities and preferences. You can discover what residents like, stimulate their minds and prompt reminiscence and discussion. Here are the five senses, what these mean and how you can engage residents with each.

Sight (Visual Stimulation)

The eyes are the organ of sight. Vision is perhaps our most important sense, the one through which we gain most of our information.

Try experimenting with lighting – how about some gentle lighting to relax? Use reminiscent images & photos to spark discussion, try the BBC Rewind website here. See how residents respond to use of colours, and shiny or reflective materials. How can you use windows or create some wall art together – you could create garlands together to brighten up spaces.

Sound (Auditory Stimulation)

Our ears provides us with our second most vibrant source of sensory stimulation.

Use nature sounds, these can be used to relax or to provoke discussion – such as rainfall, birds, the ocean, or how about this forest sounds track? How about reading poetry with residents, or reading books and articles together? See how you can use music, for example, singing and musical instruments. There is a useful guide for using music for people living with dementia here.

Taste (Gustatory Stimulation)

Nerve endings on our tongue allow us to taste what is in our mouths. In many ways taste is the most pleasurable of our senses.

Use a variety of spices & flavourings, explore warm and cold foods or try out different flavour combinations, such as sweet & sour, sugar & spice. For wine connoisseurs, try hosting a wine tasting. What about finding out a favourite meal or treat?

Touch (Tactile Stimulation)

Touch receptors are located in our skin, but in many other parts of our body as well. Anything touched and anything that touches us can be stimulating. Every solid object has texture, temperature and shape.

How does someone enjoy different textures of blankets & pillows? What about the feel of sponges, squeezy balls, animals or stuffed toys? You could create themed tactile boxes to prompt stimulation, memories and discussion.

Smell (Olfactory Stimulation)

Receptors in our nose provide us with a sense of smell. Some of our strongest memories, our most potent associations, are triggered by odour.

Try using a variety of diffusers & essential oils. Does someone enjoy the smell of fresh flowers – which is their favourite? How about the smell of herbs, twigs and leaves, and the memories that these evoke. The smell of freshly baked bread or coffee, a favourite perfume or cologne, pot pourri. Explore different soaps and hand lotions.


Photo: Karuna Manor, TLC Care