Sensory Modulation: The impact and outcomes in an adult acute inpatient mental health unit

Sensory modulation therapy has been vastly researched and acknowledged as being effective in reducing the need for seclusion in an inpatient psychiatric service setting. However, there are has been little research on how else sensory modulation therapy may be used in an inpatient psychiatric service setting.

The 14th International Mental Health Conference would like to thank Dr. Julia Hailes of Ballarat Mental Health Services for delivering this presentation at the recent conference 5-7 August held at Outrigger Surfers Paradise. The seminar focused on a study which aimed to identify a range of clinical presentations in which sensory modulation therapy can be effectively used in an adult acute inpatient mental health unit.

Data collection methods included patient interviews, file audits and staff questionnaires. These methods were used to identify the clinical presentations and scenarios in which the therapy was used. The diagnoses of patients that received sensory modulation therapy during their admission were: Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders was 53%, Bi-Polar Affective Disorder was 26.5%, and Depression or Dysthymia was 10.2%.

Results presented included behaviours as written in the clinical file at the time sensory modulation therapy was utilised, the sensory object used, length of time the patient engaged in the therapy, and the recorded outcome. Data analysis also explored the experiences of the patient; focusing on the effect sensory modulation therapy had upon the patient. The exploration of patient experiences through semi structured interviews is something which has not been done in previous research.

Lastly, it discussed how the use of sensory modulation therapy could be incorporated into patient’s discharge planning so they can continue to have access to the therapy after discharge.

Dr. Julia Hailes is the Manager of Education and Research at Ballarat Health Services – Ballarat Mental Health Services. She has been actively involved in teaching, clinical practice and research within a mental health setting for the last 32 years. Originally from Far North Queensland Coelina Mills moved to Adelaide where she completed her degree in Behavioural Science, with psychology and neuroscience majors, before completing her Honours degree in psychology. After having spent a year abroad, Coelina took up the role of Research Development Officer with Ballarat Mental Health Services in March 2012.

Podcasts of the presentations at the conference are available on our website or by clicking here