Stimuli room at Herb Bassett donated by firefighters

Keely Dakin
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The only sensory stimulation station in the Prince Albert Health Region opened on Wednesday morning at the Herb Bassett Home.  It cost $15,000 to get the room outfitted for residents to use.

The Sensory Stimulation Station is a room dedicated to providing sensory experiences to people in Herb Bassett Home.

That $15,000 was provided by the Prince Albert Fire Fighter’s Charity.

“The firefighters have given us the money to make this room possible,” said Donna Dalziel, who along with Steve Kowal applied for the funding.

“When you come into this room, the senses are stimulated,” Dalziel said of the lowly lit room filled with glowing tubs, shifting lights, a massage chair and several tactile objects.

 “It’s a space to enhance the life of residents who have dementia, or other illnesses. So when they come in here they become more engaged with life. Or if they are an agitated, volatile individual, less engaged and calm,” Dalziel said.

The variety of visual, tactile and audio stimulants can be beneficial to people with various forms of dementia as well as other illnesses, Dalziel said.

Dalziel has personal experience with the positive effects of heightened sensory experiences for people with dementia.

“My husband was diagnosed four years ago with early onset dementia. So I had to figure out a way to keep him engaged. This is a huge way to keep him engaged.”

He was diagnosed with Frontal Temporal Dementia (FTD).

“It’s very early onset dementia. He was 55.”

According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada’s webpage, FTD is a degenerative disease that tends to affect younger people and lasts between two and 10 years. There is no cure.

“When brain function starts to go south, we need to do something,” Dalziel said.

The purpose is to keep residents as healthy possible, she said.

“My husband was diagnosed four years ago with early onset dementia. So I had to figure out a way to keep him engaged. This is a huge way to keep him engaged.” Donna Dalziel

“If a resident is agitated, coming into a sensory station like this will actually help calm them down. If a resident is withdrawn from society, it will pep them up and make them more aware of their surroundings. So the room acts and enhances our residents.”

The health region applauded the pair’s efforts.

“We wouldn’t be able to have the room if it wasn’t for the work of Donna and Steve,” Carol Gregoryk, vice president of Integrated health services with the Prince Albert Parkland Health Region.

The firefighters were happy to help, said Chris Bourdon a member of the Prince Albert Fire Department.

“If someone comes to us with a need we do our best to help them out,” Bourdon said.

“In the past, we have raised almost $5 million dollars for our charity and given away that much… our mandate is that we don’t save our money, we give it out to the people who need it. We fund projects like this. We saw a need in the community and Donna Dalziel came to us and asked for our help and we are very, very proud to say that we’ve given this money because it’s being used for a very good use,” Bourdon said.

Also at the opening was Shea-Marie Atchison.

As part of the opening of the new room, Atchison painted a mural commemorating the donation of the firefighters in the hall outside the room.

Atchison spent a month painting the mural. She is 18 and a recent graduate from Carlton Comprehensive High School.


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