Official opening of new Sensory Room at SWAH

A NEW sensory room has been officially opened at the South West Acute Hospital (SWAH).

The room will help adult learning disability patients feel more comfortable and find a space away from the noisy chaos that can sometimes happen at the SWAH’s emergency department.

More than a year ago, the Western Trust opened a sensory room at Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry which has proved to be a huge success and the Trust have now expanded the facility to the SWAH.


Emer Ferguson, who is the acute liaison nurse for learning disabilities at the SWAH, told The Herald: “Information from Altnagelvin Area Hospital has shown this to be a very valuable resource to both patients and staff in assisting positive journeys through the Emergency Department.

“In an effort to replicate this, work began in SWAH to provide equity of service within the two departments. This journey took 18 months to complete from sourcing a space to the completed sensory room space which we are here today to celebrate.

“We recognise how emergency departments can be extremely busy and active areas and how this may impact on a person with a learning disability and/or autism and this room will go some way to making these interactions more positive by making reasonable adjustments.

“By making small reasonable adjustments like the use of this room can make such a difference to people’s experiences.

“We would encourage those who use the room to leave feedback about their experiences so that we can continue to build on this good work.

“Attending emergency departments can be difficult at the best of times, we generally aren’t at our best and the departments can be extremely busy.

“Add to this scenario being unable to process sounds, smells, unknown faces and information; the person can become very dysregulated and at times unable to engage fully, if at all, with the required investigations and treatment. The Sensory room can be a place of calm and comfort and a space to self-regulate.”


The first user of the sensory room, Patrick McDaid, found the experience to a welcome relief away from the hustle and bustle of the emergency department.

A family member of Patrick added: “The sensory room was a godsend.

“ Prior to moving to the room Patrick was distressed by all the coming and goings in the department and in turn that caused us distress.

“It was visible to see all his stress leave once he arrived in the sensory room. The room took us away from all the noise and commotion in the busy emergency department and Patrick just relaxed immediately and was able to have some of his tests completed more easily.”

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