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Lava lounge helps residents relax

The introduction of a ‘lava lounge’ on Monday mornings is helping residents living with dementia and higher care needs start the week calm and relaxed at one West Australian provider.

Juniper Therapy Assistants, Jose Nickson and Kathleen Stevenson
Juniper Therapy Assistants, Jose Nickson and Kathleen Stevenson

Based in Kelmscott, Juniper Sarah Hardey lava lounge sessions are giving residents and family the chance to be still and enjoy some quiet time while having other senses stimulated.

Therapy Assistant Jose Nickson says the idea came about when they recognised a need for residents to have some quiet time. “We were taking residents to the coffee shop, but realised this was too loud,” she says.

Ms Nickson says she got the idea from coffee shops in the 60s where people would go for a quiet coffee and listen to music. “They weren’t about the conversation,” she says. “They were a place to chill out and relax.”

She says because the lave lounge sensory relaxation incorporates all five senses, the idea has taken some months to evolve.

The room consists of a quiet activity room where the lights are dimmed and a variety of light sources including lava lamps, rope and glitter lights are used. “We’ve got oil burners and a 60s style record player playing Reader’s Digest LPs,” she says. “We’ve also had a lady with a guitar sometimes too.”

Residents also benefit from hand and head massages, or just touch, such as someone gently holding their hand Ms Nickson adds. “We use natural relaxation cream blends such as lavender,” she says.

A volunteer also offers residents a selection of tasting delights such as delicate custards and mousses. Adding to the experience, Ms Nickson and her co-worker, therapy assistant Kathleen Sevenson, both wear kafkans and headscarves.

“Conversation is kept to a minimum,” explains Ms Nickson. “Residents are quietly bought into the room, and the lights aren’t turn on again until the last one leaves.”

Around 16-17 residents and family members participate at a time and Ms Nickson says they love it. “We’ve had a lot of interest,” she says “Residents are a lot calmer and we’re seeing really good results – plus it’s good for staff and volunteers too!”

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