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Therapeutic and Patient Safety Technology

In this article, we'll review the benefits to using therapeutic technology within acute hospital settings.
Fixed Lighting Control Panel (left) and Lighting Information Panel (right), Emergency Department Bay, St James’s Hospital, Dublin, Ireland

Photo Design Features

  • Lighting control panel (left) with intuitive controls.
  • Lighting information panel (right) providing clear information about the impact of different lighting conditions.

Therapeutic Technology
An important use of technology in the hospital relates to multi-sensory stimulation and the creation of calming environments. The ‘Snoezelen’ room is an example of this, where multi-sensory stimulation is achieved through visual effects using water columns, fibreoptic cables, mirror balls, screen projectors, video, interactive projecting systems; sound effects through musical selections; tactile stimulation using vibrating water beds, and olfactory stimulation using aromatherapy equipment.

While Snoezelen rooms and similar therapeutic multi-sensory spaces are more commonly found in long-term residential care, they have also been successfully used in the acute setting, particularly in dedicated age related or dementia specific wards. Lighting technology is another feature that has been trialled in some hospitals.

In the busy ED environment where negative sensory overload can be a problem, adjustable ambient lighting within ED bays represents a therapeutic technology that can alleviate an austere and overtly clinical setting. Also, by changing the lighting colour temperature, this can create either a calming, restful, or stimulating lighting environment, as required.

Safety Technology
One of the main applications of technology for people with dementia relates to patient safety, and in this regard, there is a range of assistive technology systems including: ambient assisted living; infrared fall detection devices; pull-cord emergency call unit; monitoring equipment (i.e. bracelets for patients to alert a staff member when designated patients leave the ward); movement sensors or bed pressure mats that turn lights on.

Dementia Friendly Design Guidance

  • Ensure building structure and materials facilitate WiFi technologies.
  • For inpatient beds consider the following technologies: infrared fall detection devices; pull-cord emergency call unit; movement sensors or bed pressure mats that turn lights on automatically at night if a person needs to use the bathroom or move about.
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Dementia Inclusive Hospitals from a Universal Design Approach

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