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What is a Calming Room?

The advantages of “sensory equipment” for de-escalation and calming is a recent discovery and was pioneered at Her Majesty’s Women’s Prison Styal, in 2005, where the first calming room was installed in an attempt to relieve the stresses of prison life for the inmates. It was found that the effects of the use of the calming room exceeded their expectations, with women actually asking to use the calming room when they felt that a period of stress was approaching. This not only prevented the escalation of stress for her but also reduced the working stress for the staff, as they had to deal with far fewer difficult situations. The success rate was so high that, at present, the only area of stress that the room seems to have little effect on are those associated with drug addiction. H.M.P. Styal has now had a second Calming Room installed by our company, this time for their high security wing.

Our background in this field is based upon our experience in the installation of sensory rooms and Sensory Hydrotherapy systems for Special Needs applications over many years. These sensory rooms and pools have been used successfully to provide those with severe mental or physical dissabilities with both challenging and interactive, as well as calming environments. It was a simple step to select only the calming factors from these rooms to produce what is now a real alternative to sedation for clients with problems ranging from insomnia to senile dementure and can prevent the onset of stress or even violence.

PRINCIPLES
The principle of the calming room is to create an environment where outside distractions are removed and visual and audio aids are introduced to promote relaxation and contemplation. Unlike the sensory room, a calming room’s objective is not to stimulate, but to provide a gentle path to mental escape. If the client leaves the room relaxed or even better falls asleep, then room has done its job.

Calming rooms are now finding their way into special needs establishments, care homes for the elderly, respite centres, secure units and even mainstream schools, where the clients are given this space to have time out from their normal routine and provide them with a quiet space where they can "chill out" and calm down.

A calming session would start with the client entering the room which is lit with normal white light and has a high quality ”surround sound” system already playing calming sensory music (we provide the music). After a few minutes the white light will begin to dim and gentle coloured lighting will take over. This lighting will gently blend through every colour of the rainbow, an amazing 65,000 colours. The transition of colours is so slow that it is barely perceivable. The colour mixing lighting will be reflected onto all walls and the ceiling. For this purpose the room should be decorated in either white or magnolia and should not feature coloured stripes or patterned wallpaper. The colour mixing lighting is interspersed with additional calming effects provided by “Bubble Screens or Bubble Tubes” and “image projectors”. The room is programmed so that nothing happens quickly and one effect gently blends into another. At the end of the session the effects lighting slowly dims down as the white lighting dims up, this can take up to ten minutes. The music should not be stopped until after the client has left the room.

It is important that the client is not suddenly removed from a relaxed state by the interruption of sudden bright lighting, no music or loud music or personal contact (except where absolutely necessary). It is also important that the client should not feel that they are being forced into the calming room and is far better to allow one client to inform another how pleasant it is or allow them to just try it when they are not stressed.

The control system allows you to set a calming session in increments from 10 minutes to an hour and also has the facility for a session with no time limit. It is also possible to slowly fade up the white lights at any point to interrupt a timed session when necessary without destroying the calmed state.
 

MORE INFORMATION ON CALMING ROOMS