A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Snoezelen room’s multi-sensory experience soothes patients

What is the snoezelen room and what it does

A Snoezelen Room is a special multi-sensory environment in Marshfield Children’s Hospital to help kids reduce stress and anxiety of being in the hospital.

Snoezelen room. It sounds like a place out of a Dr. Seuss book and looks a little bit like one, too. However, a Snoezelen room is a multi-sensory space for patients to help reduce the stress and anxiety of being in the hospital and give them back a sense of control.

The Snoezelen room concept was developed in the 1970s by two Dutch therapists. Snoezelen is a combination of two Dutch words that mean, “to explore and relax.” In health care, this space is a way for patients to experience a non-directive therapy, meaning they guide and decide how to spend their time in the space. Each room is different and any patient can benefit from a Snoezelen room.

Snoezelen rooms help patients explore their senses

A variety of multi-sensory features bring the Snoezelen room to life. The different interactions are designed to stimulate auditory, visual, tactile and sometimes olfactory senses. At Marshfield Children’s Hospital, the room includes a light up bubble tube that changes colors, a color changing fiber optic “waterfall,” music, aromatherapy and comfortable seating.

“Children can customize their experience,” said Heidi Giese, Child Life & Expressive Therapies manager at Marshfield Children’s Hospital. “The fiber optics are good for patients to feel and touch and the bubble tube also has a vibrating feature for people who have visual impairment.”

As people experience the Snoezelen room, they can have one or two stimuli or choose to use more. For instance, a patient with a traumatic brain injury will only use limited stimulation to start. While patients with anxiety or pain management needs can build their experience to create a relaxing environment that fits their individual needs.

See how this patient responded to Snoezelen room.

Time to re-center and recharge

In therapy, patients often have specific goals or milestones they are working towards. With the Snoezelen room, Child Life and Expressive Therapies professionals look to the patient to set the focus of the experience and how it makes them feel. “Being in the hospital can be scary, especially for children. Using the space helps pediatric patients decrease stress and make their own choices, giving them back some control in their lives,” Giese said.

Marshfield Children’s Hospital also has two portable Snoezelen cart that bring sensory features to patients who cannot leave their beds. The Snoezelen room and cart are made possible by donations to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. “Because of the generous support of donors we are able to use this innovative method to make children’s time in the hospital as positive as possible,” Giese said.

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