Setting up a Sensory Modulation Room?

A sensory room is basically a room where a person can visit and use different items or activities that are aimed at elevating or lowering the stimulation of different senses. When used appropriately, sensory rooms: 

  • Help to create a safe space
  • Facilitate the therapeutic alliance
  • Provide opportunities for engagement in prevention and crisis de-escalation strategies, as well as a host of other therapeutic exchanges (to teach skills, offer a variety of therapeutic activities, etc.) 
  • Promote self-care/self-nurturance, resilience & recovery

Currently Sensory modulation is being used as an tool in seclusion and restraint reduction in mental health units in numerous countries. Seclusion and restraint reduction is an integral part of ever increasing need to improve client safety and quality of stay on mental health units. 

Generally, to help guide conceptualization, there are a variety of therapeutic spaces that may be categorized under the sensory room umbrella: sensory modulation rooms, sensory integration rooms and snoezelen rooms are examples.

The Sensory Room Umbrella

© Champagne, 2008
Important to consider when setting up a Sensory room on your unit are to get the rest of your staff on board and involved. Without the support of the rest of you staff, who are generally going to be the people helping identify when the a client may want to use the room, you will find it very difficult to get up and running. lists the following ideas for involving staff & consumers in the process:

  • Post a flyer on your unit stating the plan to create a sensory room, sensory area, sensory cart, sensory bins, bags or baskets.
  • Ask for any suggestions and/or donations of time to help with the organizing of the whole project.
  • Post sign up sheets to determine who is interested in helping to plan and create the room.
  • Circulate a unit survey to staff and consumers for ideas regarding how to decorate the room, what to offer in the space, on the cart, theme ideas, what to call the room, etc.
  • Include everyone in the process of creating and decorating.
  • Ask for volunteers to help you provide educational in-services to assure staff are qualified to utilize the space and the items in a manner that is appropriate each person’s cognitive/emotional/physical status and that things get washed as per policy.
  • Ask for ideas when creating the policies and procedures for use of the space and the items in the space.
  • Provide opportunities for staff to explore their own sensory tendencies, preferences and to think about how these tendencies influence their daily routines and work habits.

The Te Pou Mental Health Service in New Zealand have developed a brilliant page that discusses the Eight steps to a successful introduction of sensory modulation to your clinical area. Here they identify the steps as:

  1. Establishing a sense of urgency
  2. Creating a vision
  3. Communicating the Vision
  4. Empowering others to act on the vision of implementing Sensory Modulation
  5. Plan for and create short term wins
  6. Consolidating improvements and producing still more change
  7. Embedding Sensory Modulation.

check out their site for all the information on these 8 steps.

Check out for everything you need to know about setting up Sensory Modulation on your ward.

More Sensory modulation topics will be covered in future posts.



2 thoughts on “Setting up a Sensory Modulation Room?

  1. Thanks! A succinct review of the key elements to setting up a sensory room – and I love the inclusion of a New Zealand resource! 🙂

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