Silverado Sensory Programs
Showing innovation through better, more effective approaches to care.
A Call for Innovation
Sensory programs are a commonly-used method for helping connect with memory impaired individuals whose ability to recognize or create associations with the world has weakened. Activities to simultaneously stimulate senses, such as the dual sensations of touch and smell roused by the application of scented lotion, often create a stronger engagement than one alone. Alternatively, providing a sensory focus can help overstimulated residents focus and find calm.
Silverado was founded with the idea of discovering better, more effective methods of memory care, and the sensory programs at Silverado Memory Care Communities are the perfect example of the company’s approach to enrich the lives of residents at a range of functional levels. Silverado’s engagement teams incorporate the most effective methods into their programs - from the latest research findings to personal observations made from years of experience. This philosophy is well illustrated by the innovative sensory program at Silverado, The Huntington in Alhambra, California.
“I’ve worked with Alzheimer’s patients since the 1970s, and the trouble with sensory programs has always been keeping longer-lasting benefits,” shared Cheryl Stollman, Director of Resident Engagement at Silverado, The Huntington. Recognizing that sensory programs with meaning were much better, she and her team set out to redefine sensory engagement programs. The earliest form of this innovative approach made its debut with The Huntington’s 13th anniversary in 2012 and was instantly a success.
A Sensory Journey
Working within a lively sensory space themed to a distinct location, residents experience the essence of a country or city with all five senses. Using food, drinks, props, clothing, videos, music and decorations, the engagement team creates an immersive experience that concentrates a resident’s awareness. Textures and tactile experiences are many, and residents are encouraged to “dig in” and truly feel everything in front of them. By covering the full range of senses, even those whose condition is in its later stages are more likely to find something stirring in the deepest parts of their minds.
The sensory space is a spectacle to behold, even for those who don’t have memory impairments. China, one of the more popular sensory destinations, is represented by a red silk tablecloth covered with treats for the eyes, hands, nose and taste buds. Residents are encouraged to hold and inspect paper fans, imitation Yuan notes, Baoding balls (pairs of metal “stress” balls) and far-east décor, sometimes while they wear a piece of traditional clothing. Egg rolls, rice, ginger cookies and tea provide a snack that contributes to the experience of “being there.” Chinese incense, music and a Globe Trekker travel video round out the immersive experience, ensuring that all five senses receive a clear, focused message.
This complete sensory experience is repeated with a number of interesting destinations, including Italy, France, Germany and, based on a resident’s idea, New York City. By hosting programs themed to a variety of locales, residents’ unique life experiences can be stirred and a meaningful connection made. Whether fond childhood memories or recollections of travels past, reawakening precious facets of personalities long thought lost is one of the greatest gifts a memory-impaired individual can receive.
Of course, these sensory “trips” couldn’t have the life-enriching effects they do without a fantastic tour guide. In the case of The Huntington, this is an engagement team comprising three caring, skilled experts with more than 40 years of combined engagement experience. From creating new destinations to facilitating participation based on abilities and interests, the team’s drive to help residents connect is awe-inspiring and heartwarming. Anyone who sees The Huntington’s engagement team in action knows that their dedication to residents propels them to new heights of excellence.
A Focus on Results
The Huntington’s sensory program supports several groups of residents each week. Just like the neighborhoods within the community, resident experiences are based on their level of memory loss. Residents whose dementia is more advanced and have lost the ability to communicate with words can often be seen with a renewed brightness in their eyes, occasionally accompanied by a tear of joy as a fond recollection or moment of clarity overtakes them. For residents at earlier stages, the programs often serve as a conversation starter and give them the opportunity to interact and make connections with those around them. Whatever stage the participants are at, the delight that comes from this innovative program is tangible.
Silverado is proud to be an innovator in memory care, constantly seeking new methods to enrich the lives of residents, their families and associates. The Huntington’s sensory program illustrates this philosophy, providing inventive care that is true to residents’ personalities and uplifts everyone it touches.