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NI’s First Sensory Room for Adult Learning Disability patients opens at Altnagelvin Hospital


We are delighted that the very first Sensory Room in Northern Ireland to support Adult Learning Disability patients has opened in the Emergency Department at Altnagelvin Hospital, Derry/Londonderry.

Speaking at the opening of Sensory Room Clionagh McElhinney, Acute Liaison Nurse for Adult Learning Disability said:

“I am the first Acute Liaison Nurse in Northern Ireland and have been in post at Altnagelvin Hospital from 2019. Since then I have realised that patients with a learning disability find it very difficult to cope with an over stimulating, busy environment such as Emergency Departments. Best practice guidelines would indicate that we need to make reasonable adjustments for our patients with a learning disability whilst they are in a general hospital setting. I obtained funding from the Learning Disability Programme of Care and I am delighted to say that with the support of my colleagues here in Altnagelvin Hospital’s Emergency Department (ED) we have now secured a room which was formerly used to triage patients and transformed it into a sensory room. This is the most soothing, calming environment for patients with a learning disability with comfy chairs, colour changing led lights and a digital sound system, patients can have their clinical procedures undertaken away from busy, over stimulating cubicles or waiting area.”

ALD Sensory Room, Altnagelvin Hospital

Clionagh continued:

“My Christmas has come all at once as we opened our sensory room on 1st December and had our first patient Christian who really enjoyed the experience. Christian along with his carer Rachel were in an out of the ED in 30 minutes all thanks to the wonderful staff. The feedback has been fantastic both from staff in ED and the Residential Home and from Christian’s family.”


Christian’s mum Jeannette said:

“Christian’s experience in the Emergency Department in comparison to previous experience has been incredible as it helps keep him calm so that he can get test and procedures carried out without causing stress and anxiety. This will help so many patients like Christian and their families, it will alleviate their anxiety and minimise stress of having to take their relative to ED.”

Sr Trudy Wallace, ED Manager at Altnagelvin Hospital said:

“We are very excited to have this new sensory room installed in our Emergency Department. This room will help to support the needs of patients with a learning disability requiring treatment. Thank you to Clionagh for being the driving force behind this wonderful initiative which is an excellent example of joined up working between Learning Disability Services and Acute Services. We are extremely proud that we are the first Emergency Department in Northern Ireland to be able to offer this facility for learning disability patients. This will help to support our staff as we continue to deliver safe and effective care to all our patient during these challenging times.”