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New tactile room opens in Aged Mental Health Unit at Frankston Hospital

1 West staff including Esther Murray (centre) in the new Tactile Room.

A purpose built sensory room in 1 West, the Acute Aged Mental Health Unit at Frankston Hospital, is making a big difference to patients and their families.

“1 West is a 15 bed unit for patients over the age of 65 who have a serious mental illness and dementia,” explains Nurse Unit Manager Esther Murray.

“What used to be a dark and dingy storeroom has been transformed into what we call ‘The Library.’”

The tactile room is full of different textures and sensory items for patients. The wallpaper looks exactly like a grand old-fashioned book case.

“Sometimes with our patients when they are very unwell their behaviours are very difficult,” explains Esther.

“I wanted a place where patients with dementia can feel the texture, because for them feeling and touching things is really, really important and we have a lot of patients with dementia.”  

“We also have a cupboard full of sensory toys that we get out, including these weighted animals (Pet Pals), which are quite realistic for patients.”

The sensory room, as well as a new casual lounge area were funded by a grant from the John & Mary McAlister Howden Charitable Trust.

Since opening last year, “The Library”, has provided a therapeutic space where patients and families can relax together surrounded by sensory stimuli, while the lounge provides a non-clinical space where patients can sit outside of their hospital room providing a significantly improved environment to aid in recovery.  

“It’s also a nice quiet place for the patient if they want to have some time out of the business of the ward to come in and read the newspaper or a magazine,” adds Esther.

“Sometimes just the opportunity to come in and do some colouring in patterns can help with any difficulties they are experiencing. It is just so good for people with a cognitive impairment who are very confused to have a space like this.”

Esther thanked the John & Mary McAlister Howden Charitable Trust for supporting the project.

“These little things all make such a big difference to the patients and also to the nursing staff, to be able to manage patients in this environment,” says Esther.

“All of this really adds value so we are very appreciative.”