Western Health & Social Care Trust, a healthcare organization operating in Northern Ireland, has opened a first-of-its-kind Sensory Room in the Emergency Department (ED) of the Altnagelvin Hospital, Derry. The sensory room is aimed at helping adults with learning disabilities.
The first Acute Liaison Nurse for Adult Learning Disability in Northern Ireland, Clionagh McElhinney has been associated with Altnagelvin Hospital since 2019. Over time, she realized how the overstimulating and busy environment of an emergency room can be difficult to cope with for patients with learning difficulties.
Speaking about the opening of the sensory room to Derry Daily, Clionagh explains, “Best practice guidelines would indicate that we need to make reasonable adjustments for our patients with a learning disability whilst they are in a general hospital setting.” She managed to secure funding from the Learning Disability Programme of care, and with the help of a few of her colleagues, converted a room previously used for triaging patients into a sensory room.
Since the opening of the room, many patients have benefited from its calming and soothing environment. With color-changing LED lights, a digital sound system, and comfy chairs, it helps patients with sensory sensitivities in getting their medical procedures done without having to deal with stress and anxiety.
The ED Manager at the Altnagelvin Hospital, Dr Trudy Wallace said, “We are very excited to have this new sensory room installed in our Emergency Department. We are extremely proud that we are the first Emergency Department in Northern Ireland to be able to offer this facility for learning disability patients.”