Sensory room lighting up lives at St Teresa's

21 October 2015

by Lindsay Whitehead

Mark with fish lights in the sensory room at St. Theresa's

The sensory room at St Teresa’s in Cornwall is making a huge difference to the lives of residents.

Many of the people who use our service have severe disabilities and find it difficult to communicate. The sensory room is helping residents like Mark to express themselves in new ways.

What is a sensory room?

Mark with mauve lights in sensory room at St. Theresa'sA sensory room is a place for the residents to explore and stimulate their senses.

The smells, lights, sounds and tactile materials in the room all promote brain activity and provide stimulation which residents who are sensory deprived respond to.

It has special equipment which creates coloured lighting and effects. It also has a soft area with mats, blankets and beanbags where residents can roll and relax, and various tactile activities.

New possibilities for Mark

Long-exposure image showing trail of yellow light as Mark uses coloured lightsMark is one of the residents benefiting from the room.

His disabilities are complex. He has cerebral palsy and is visually impaired. He also has learning difficulties and epilepsy.

Communication is really difficult for him. He can’t ask for what he needs, or say how he is feeling. So it is vital to ensure we're meeting all his needs.

It’s also important for him to be stimulated as well as to feel safe. The sensory room is the perfect environment to do this.

When Mark is in the room, he really interacts with all the sensory features.

By changing the lighting and turning on the bubble machine, Mark is able to have control and influence his environment in a positive way — something which is difficult for him in everyday life.

The room helps Mark to respond to the world and to express himself. It’s wonderful to see. When he is there he becomes very vocal and happy.

A calm and therapeutic space

The room provides comfort and stress release when Mark and other residents may be feeling a bit low.

The mood of the room can be set to be a place of calm by using smells such as lavender or lemon, playing relaxing music and adjusting the lighting.

The sensory room has been vital for residents. It’s having a positive effect on their wellbeing and opening up their world in new and positive ways.

Lindsay Whitehead is a team leader at St Teresa's.


It is wonderful that Mark is being helped with the therapeutic space, I hope many other,s will experience greater movements in there Brains when they enter the same space.

Sensory room is special to me because when my daughter was seriously ill in hospital it was a great comfort and calming for both of us.

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