The Sensory Experience
A story by Kibbleworks
We provided one hour fully personalised sessions in our state-of-the-art multi-sensory room for young people with disabilities and their carers. This was followed by tea/coffee and cake after the session. Carers had the choice to stay or how they wanted to spend their time.
What The Sensory Experience did
Over the past year we have welcomed over 150 carers and young people to The Experience to spend time relaxing in our state-of-the-art multi-sensory room.
The sessions took place at The Experience, an exciting social enterprise which operates a go-karting track, laser quest, and café open to the public alongside an accessible leisure programme including disability karting and the multi-sensory room.
Sessions in the multi-sensory room lasted one hour, after which all carers and young people had the option to enjoy free tea/coffee and cake in our café. Activities include a fully interactive projector, light and sound system, bubble tube, fibre optic glow lights, an aroma and mist generator, a tactile disc, and vibrating platform.
All of the equipment can be customised as required and programmed to create a calming, therapeutic environment, or a stimulating environment to develop cognitive ability. Visitors had the opportunity to experience a range of multi-sensory environments including a dewy forest, underwater scene, and snowy mountain range. We advertised the short break service to local carers organisations, through existing connections with carers, and advertising in-house at our busy venue.
Carers were given the option to join the cared-for you person in the sensory room during the session, or to spend their time elsewhere in the venue. The majority of carers chose to visit the sensory room which offered a safe, relaxing, and enjoyable experience for both the carer and young person to take a break from their everyday caring responsibilities.
Using a short survey form we gathered feedback from users which highlighted how much people enjoy spending time in the sensory room, and how much both the carer and young person gained from the session.
One carer whose child is in a wheelchair and has a visual impairment expressed how The Experience has provided both of them with “invaluable opportunities to go out into the community and experience different environments.”
Another carer of a young person with Autism commented that the resource “gives families a safe, secure, pleasurable environment to be part of the wider community.” The location of the sensory room in a mainstream leisure facility which is fully accessible for all abilities meant that both the carer and young person with support needs were able to enjoy time in a venue which would normally be out of bounds for them, in the knowledge that they were being suitably supported.
“S relaxes and laughs whilst being in the sensory room. She enjoys the music and lights which often results in her having a better night’s sleep.”
Not only did the cared-for young person benefit, but by joining them in the sensory room, the carer herself was able to enjoy the multi-sensory experience.
“Safe and relaxing environment. Brilliant for carer and young person!”
We have found that the large majority of carers chose to spend their downtime with the cared-for young person, whilst still feeling like they got a break. For example one carer said, “Great wee place, the only place I can take my son to and relax whilst he plays.”
This finding helped us to understand the needs of carers and the factors influencing their decision about how they spend their time. This information will be used to inform future provision.
What Kibbleworks has learnedFunding through the Short Breaks Fund Better Breaks programme has allowed us to create a popular carers programme at The Experience which we are now going to continue and seek to grow. This will allow new and returning carers to continue to enjoy the service.
Perhaps the biggest surprise to us was the spread of local authorities that people who visited us came from. Some travelled from as far away as Edinburgh, around 60 miles away, making a day of the trip and bringing siblings to enjoy the other activities available at the venue.
One of the main challenges initially was getting new visitors to the service. However after realising that many of the new visitors came through word-of-mouth and changing how we advertised, we were able to attract more new visitors than anticipated at the outset.
Record keeping was a challenge in a busy leisure venue such as The Experience. With time pressures on reception staff and multiple customers to deal with at a time, feedback forms were not always given to carers to be completed.