New Brunswick

Bathurst nursing home opens sensory therapy room for residents

The Villa Chaleur nursing hoome in Bathurst is taking a multi-sensory approach to help treat residents with dementia by opening a new Snoezelen room in the veterans unit.

Snoezelen room at Villa Chaleur's veterans unit uses light, sound to help treat dementia patients

Lights are among the tools used in the Snoezelen room at the Robert L. Knowles veterans unit of Villa Chaleur Inc. in Bathurst. (CBC)

A nursing home in Bathurst has opened a new sensory therapy room for residents with dementia.

The so-called Snoezelen room at the Villa Chaleur Inc. uses sound, light and touch to help promote relaxation and stress management.

"When you come out of there, you feel light. You feel good. You feel alive," said Roger Benoit, a resident of the Robert L. Knowles veterans unit.

Snoezelen rooms are common in schools and other institutions to treat children on the autism spectrum.

But Paul Poirier, past president of the Royal Canadian Legion New Brunswick Command, had also seen them in veterans units in the Saint John area.

"I told myself, 'Why can't we use it here?'" he recalled.

Poirier says now that veterans and their spouses are aging, the legion needs to look for new ways to support them.

The equipment was purchased with about $10,000 from the poppy fund and the room's grand opening was held last week.

Activity co-ordinator Megan Martel says the small room has huge healing potential for residents.

"They like to sit and manipulate and view [the lights]. The colours change for them," she said.

"Also, the bubble tube is a big hit with dementia patients."

The room can also help caregivers connect with the residents, said Martel.

"We can talk about … perhaps by seeing the stars, it may remind them of camping, or by seeing the fish, maybe fishing," she said.