When we opened our Namaste Room, my friend Sara Daly called me for a tour. Sara co-owns Waterfalls Day Spa in Middlebury, and I was excited to get her input on our new spa-like room. I was not expecting the proposal that I received at the end of our tour: Sara had recently begun the patenting process for their new a’chromatherapy™ program, and she wanted to bring it to EastView.
Our Namaste Room is a place for relaxation for people with advanced dementia. It’s a room filled with recliners and fish tanks, soft lighting and music, snacks and blankets. People can go in any time they’d like to rest, have their nails done, and get a massage. It’s a high-touch environment meant to stimulate the senses, and when the doors close behind them, the person is met with gentle smells and sounds of nature that invite them to close their eyes and relax.
The Waterfalls Day Spa a’chromatherapy™ program is a “unique sensory journey” that utilizes the combined power of aroma, color, and guided meditation to create an overall sense of well-being and balance. This special combination of sensory stimulation is the perfect addition to our Room, and has proven to be an incredible tool for stress relief and relaxation with our residents and staff.
With the addition of the Namaste Room and a’chromatherapy™ program, we are seeing a reduction in stress and anxiety levels in our memory care neighborhood. Dementia can be a noisy and confusing disease, but something magical happens when we bring someone into our Room, tuck them into a recliner, close the doors, and start a meditation. We have seen a reduction in the use of pain medications, and psychotropic medications that are used to treat the behavioral symptoms of dementia. Our specially designed environment has helped us have better success with distraction and redirection when residents are upset. Often times, when we show someone the meditation pictures, they are able to stop focusing on their pain or fear, and instead begin to remember times they were in the forest, at the beach, or watching a sunset.
The a’chromatherapy™ program has been a hit with our staff, as well. The guided meditations have been used before staff meetings and before shifts. Employees are calmer and feel more comfortable speaking openly with coworkers and supervisors, and work together to problem solve and negotiate. Employees are able to use the meditations during their breaks, or any time throughout their day if they are feeling stressed or upset. It is essential that staff provide a calm environment for people with dementia, and the addition of these two programs gives everyone the opportunity to find some calmness and peace in their day.
I feel really good about having these tools in our pocket to help combat the symptoms of dementia. We’re able to provide our residents with holistic treatments that help them feel more in control and more at peace. Our staff experience less burnout when they are able to break away from their day to day tasks and provide people with soothing treatments, experiencing first–and secondhand–the benefits of the Namaste Room. I’m so thankful that Sara had the idea to bring a’chromatherapy™ into our world, as it has helped improve the quality of life for all of us at EastView.