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What is sensory stimulation?

Posted on by Nichol and Hill Ltd

The five human senses are very powerful and important. For the majority of us, our senses can be overlooked and taken advantage as something we’ve always had and have always been able to use. However, for those who are less able-bodied, the senses can play a far more vital part in their lives, and that’s where sensory stimulation comes into it…

What is sensory stimulation?

sensory stimulationSensory stimulation was a concept developed in the 1960s in Europe and was initially a therapy used to help people with learning disabilities to explore and be stimulated by their surroundings.

Sensory stimulation taps into all the senses and is believed to improve a person’s mental well-being, helping them have a better understand of their surrounding environment. It is still used for people who have learning disabilities as well a those who suffer from Alzheimer’s and Dementia, to help them relax and encourage interaction, communication and positive behaviour, which overall can largely reduce stress levels.

How does sensory stimulation work?

The five human senses include:

SightSight - Our strongest sense and the one we gain most of our information from. Alzheimers and Dementia sufferers often have ‘bright light therapy’ that can enhance better sleeping and more positive moods with exposure to certain levels of lighting.

smellSmell - Links to some of our most poignant memories and can take us back to that very moment in time, which is why this sense is so very important for those who suffer with memory-related illnesses. Smell is also heavily connected to taste.

tasteTaste – Depending on how much you value food and drink, tasting can be one of the most pleasurable senses of the human body. New flavours can bring interest and variety into our lives, heightening our senses.

touchTouch – Things we touch and things that touch us can stimulate us greatly. Touch provides us with a great way to communicate, especially if we are not able to communicate via other channels.  When we touch something, we take in the texture, shape and temperature of the objects we feel. This is why, for residents of care homes, the soft furnishings that surround them, such as cushions, bed linen and chair covers, play such an important role in their lives and how it makes them feel.

soundSound (non-verbal) – Sound is our second most vibrant source stimulation, with natural sounds being the best for alleviating our mood, such as soft rain falling on a window. Similar to smell, sound can also revive our memory, such as an old song.

Utilising different smells, music, lighting effects and textures can make noticeable changes to our mood. The most common sensory stimulators include; vibrating cushions, bubble tubes, projectors, colour-changing fibre optics and sensory gardens to name just a few.

Nichol and Hill

Many healthcare premises, such as hospitals, care centres and nursing homes, carry out sensory stimulation with their residents and patients in order to improve their health and well-being.

Here at Nichol and Hill, we work with these industries to help create the ideal environment for their patients. We specialise in manufacturing the most bespoke soft furnishings for care homes and other commercial sectors.

With a wide selection of fabrics, colours and designs, our talented team craft the perfect upholstery to meet the requirements of the surrounding environment and, most importantly, the needs of residents. For more information about our services, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us today.


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