A new multi-sensory area is helping and entertaining patients at a Montreal hospital. A Snoezelen room, originally developed in the Netherlands in the 1970s, has been installed at Mount Sinai Hospital in Côte St. Luc.

Sponsored by Marlene and Joel King and family, the multi-sensory Snoezelen room, so-called from a combination of the Dutch words for “to doze” and “to explore,” is a first for Montreal’s Jewish hospital. Featuring multi-colored bubble lamps and a fur covered hammocks for patients to relax, the therapy room has already been a hit among patients, many whom are long-term or in end-of-life care.

“One patient called it a Zen experience, another does her art in this room,” recreational therapist Paul Pinette said. “We have found that with people who are anxious, it calms them down, and for those who are withdrawn, it wakes them up.”

The room also offers a number of unique sensory experiences, including a mat that projects scenes that change with a swipe of the user’s hand as well as a LED screen that allows patients to try their hand at memory games.

“The activities they do in the Snoezelen room help patients experience a moment of tranquility, induced by the use of gentle sensory stimulation,” Maria Stathatos, program manager for respiratory care, said of the room, which is being used for a wide range of patients. “All the senses are engaged, using visual, acoustic and tactile elements.”

More than a novelty or a way for patients to pass the time, the Snoezelan room is part of a patient-centered approach to care at Mount Sinai Hospital that looks to heal the whole person.

For dementia patients, this means helping patients feel calm and encouraging them to communicate. The Snoezelan room, “contributes to breaking through their isolation so communication can be established,” Statahtos said.

She added that for patients no longer able to walk to the Snoezelan room, a cart containing tactile and sensory experiences allows patients to enjoy the benefits of Snoezelan room at all stages of care.