Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital is the first Children's hospital in the U.S. to dedicate a space on an acute care unit to be used as a multisensory environment (MSE). This type of room originally was developed in the Netherlands in the 1970's. Today, multisensory rooms are being created all over the world. Typically, such rooms are found in rehab settings, outpatient clinics, and psychiatric facilities to name a few.
A multisensory environment is a room designed in a way that is calming to the senses and where the pediatric patient can experience visual, auditory, and tactile stimuli. It is furnished with items that are physically comfortable and pleasing to the senses in order to provide a sanctuary from anxiety, stress, and pain. The MSE is an empowering environment for all our pediatric patients where the patient is offered choices; therefore it fosters control and promotes relaxation. The MSE is especially beneficial for patients with Asperger's syndrome, autism spectrum disorder, and or child with a multitude of sensory issues. The MSE is a treatment area and accommodates one pediatric patient at a time. This patient is supervised one on one with a child life specialist. Sessions are usually 20 minutes long depending on the needs of the pediatric patient. Referrals can be made by pediatric staff to the child life specialist.
The MSE was officially opened in October 2011 thanks to many community donors who made it a reality. The child life staff at the present time is the only staff trained to use the MSE room with pediatric patients. As we begin to see more and more positive results associated with the use of the MSE with pediatric patients, more pediatric staff members will need to be trained so that patients can be taken to the room more often. Our goals are to use the MSE as an educational opportunity for our students using satellite observation and research on the benefits of having such a room in a children's hospital. A virtual tour of the MSE will be created and available online in the near future so that donors, parents, employees and other interested individuals can view the wonderful gem we have here at Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital!