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Actor and Mencap NI Ambassador James Martin officially opens Sensory Room at Altnagelvin Hospital’s Emergency Department


Official Opening ALD Sensory Room

The Western Trust Chief Executive Neil Guckian warmly welcomed actor and Mencap NI Ambassador James Martin and guests to officially open the Adult Learning Disability Sensory Room at Altnagelvin Hospital’s Emergency Department today (Monday 07 March 2022).

James Martin said:

“Thank you for inviting me to open the sensory room at Altnagelvin Hospital. It will help many people with a learning disability and their families when they have to go to hospital in an emergency. It can be scary to go to hospital, so this will help keep people calm and happy so they can get better treatment. This new sensory room will be fantastic and really help people.”

James continued:

“It is important that people with a learning disability get help and support when they visit hospital and that staff understand how to help them. Simple changes make a big difference, more time, better communication and clearer information can all help to make sure someone with a learning disability is treated well in hospital.”

Colleen Hamilton Clionagh McElhinney James Martin And Marie Mullan Pictured At The Official Opening ALD Sensory Room

Neil Guckian, Chief Executive at the Western Trust expressed his delight to be part of the official opening of the first Sensory Room installed in a Northern Ireland Emergency Department.  Neil said:

“I wish to warmly welcome you all to Altnagelvin Hospital’s ED today to celebrate the opening of this wonderful sensory room. This facility has been extremely well received by staff, clients and families since opening on 01 December 2021.”

Neil continued:

“Thank you to our Acute Liaison Nurse Clionagh McElhinney for her vision and commitment to improving the lives of patients with a Learning Disability and to our Emergency Department staff for their dedication and support as they continue to deliver safe and effective care for our population in the North West. This initiative was undertaken in response to feedback and discussion with carers and service users who have attended ED in the past and is a reflection of working in partnership with different professionals with the support of the Trust’s Adult Learning Disability Involvement Team. Given the successful feedback to date of our first sensory room, we are hopeful that we can replicate such areas in other parts of the Trust. Well done everyone on this outstanding achievement we are extremely proud of you all!”

Clionagh McElhinney, Acute Liaison Nurse based at Altnagelvin Hospital explained:

“To help improve the experience of people with a Learning Disability and their carers when attending the Emergency Department, we worked in partnership with our ED colleagues to create a new sensory room. This room provides a quiet, relaxing environment to minimise stress and anxiety so that their clinical procedures can be carried out and avoids unnecessary interaction with other patients in ED Waiting Area.

“I would like to thank the local supplier of sensory equipment Creative Activity and in particular Kieran McMullan Sales Manager who helped to design the room and provided a very efficient and professional service. The room was fitted inside 4 hours with limited disruption to services within ED. Thank you Kieran and your team.”

James Martin Actor And Mencap Ambassador Cutting The Ribbon To Officially Open ALD Sensory Room At Altnagelvin HospitalClionagh added:

“The feedback that has been received since this room opened from both staff and patients has been phenomenal and is testament to the care and dedication of the staff in ED. Comments received:

“The difference it made to the person’s care was unbelievable, he was so settled and calm once taken into the room. We were able to get his clinical observation once in the room.” (ED staff member)

“Fantastic Facility” (carer)

“Usually this would have been the most stressful things in our life but with the new sensory room it was brilliant, he loved it. This has to be the one of the best ideas Altnagelvin has ever done- well done everyone!! (parent)

Colleen Hamilton, Assistant Services Manager for Unscheduled Care at Altnagelvin Hospital’s Emergency Department said

“We are delighted to have this dedicated space in our Emergency Department to support patients with a learning disability and their carers. Once the room door is closed you would not imagine you are in the midst of an extremely busy and noisy environment – it really is a calm oasis and has been very well received by the staff here in the department. It allows us to carry out tests and procedures much more easily and in less time which is beneficial to the patient and staff. We are very proud that we are the first ED in Northern Ireland to have this sensory room and look forward to continuing to provide the best care to our patients in the future.”