A multi-sensory environment

The History of Snoezelen

The word Snoezelen originated in Holland in the early 1980s by Ad Verheul and Jan Hulsegge. It is derived from the words “Snuffelen” to seek out or explore and “Doezelen” to relax. The original concept of Snoezelen was developed to offer a quality recreation and relaxation experience for severely disabled adults.

Snoezelen Philosophysnoezelenroom

Hulsegge and Verheul asserted that Snoezelen should be self directed, and not focused towards any specific educational or therapeutic outcomes. They believed that Snoezelen provided an invaluable opportunity to see their clients as they really are, and allow them freedom to make their own choices. Free from the pressures to perform or achieve… liberated from control or routine… detached from medical diagnosis and known limitations, clients can react and respond to this sensory world in their own special way. Snoezelen enhances quality of life by using a new approach to care giving.

How Snoezelen Workssnoezelenhand

Snoezelen manipulates brain chemistry through the senses to set the tone for motivation and functional attention. It lowers stress chemistry and increases relaxation chemistry. The key is finding the right combination.

The Enabling Approach

The enabling approach is a sensitive, caring, non-directive approach in which the atmosphere of safety and security is encouraged. The enabler and client will share a common, positive emotional experience during the activity. There is no formal focus upon therapeutic outcomes rather; the focus is to assist users to gain maximum pleasure from the activity that they and the enabler are involved in. There is freedom from performance pressure, and it is non-goal oriented.

  • Caregivers surrender control at the door and let the participant lead
  • Caregivers observe their reactions closely and cater to their preferences
  • Caregivers do more encouraging and less directions
  • Unique setting where there are no inherent expectations
  • Relaxation and enjoyment are the most important things
  • Gains and changes will occur naturally

Sensory Experiencesnoezelenclient

Seniors with cognitive challenges and other complex conditions often find the world confusing, boring, restrictive, and over or under stimulating. This leads to stress, dependence, and lack of control and or sensory deprivation.

What Snoezelen Offers

  • A relaxed atmosphere
  • Pleasant surroundings
  • Soothing sounds
  • Intriguing aroma
  • Interesting light effects
  • Comfortable seating
  • Choice of sensations
  • Opportunities for interaction and engagement

“Our sensory diet needs are similar to our nutritional diet needs. We need the right combination of sensory input to keep an optimal level of alertness and performance.” ~ Patricia Wilbarger, OTR June 1995 Sensory Integration


 Benefits of Snoezelen

  • Stimulates the senses
  • Increases happiness
  • Provides an alternative to medications and isolation
  • Increases functionality, awareness and attention
  • Improves appetite, memory, cognition, speech
  • Encourages movement, range of motion, and posture
  • Improves relationships
  • Decreases aggression, abuse, anxiety, and wandering

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