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Efterpi

Efterpi Soropos

Year of Award: 2013 Award State: Victoria Arts - Visual > General
Health And Medicine > Aged Care
To investigate, develop and implement aged care dementia immersive sensory art projects - Hong Kong, Japan, UK
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My background is in performing arts design. I studied production and design at NIDA and then for over 20 years worked in theatre, contemporary, dance, physical theatre, music events, circus, opera, installation art and design and multimedia events.  This wide range of experience helped to formulate the concept of Human Rooms which uses original video, sound and lighting design within hospital rooms to create a more relaxing environment. In 2006 the painful inspiration behind this work was derived from spending time with my Mother when she was in hospital dying of breast cancer. I then completed a Masters in Community Cultural Development, VCA, Melbourne University.  In 2008 the first artwork was developed. “the disambiguation room” at McCulloch House, Palliative Care In Patient Unit, Monash Medical Centre.  In 2009 a modified version of this room was set up St Luke’s Ward, Calvary Healthcare Bethlehem, Caulfield.  The project at McCulloch House became a permanent part of the facility by 2013 along with significant development of 2 other types of systems a mobile version and version in a patient room.  Most recently in 2013, a new room was designed and installed in the new Olivia Newton John Cancer and Wellbeing Centre, Austin Health, Heidelberg.  

Although Human Rooms is an original concept it has been linked to multisensory therapies and multisensory environments (MSE) as a way of categorising it within health care. The most common known MSE practice is Snoezelen which is used in many residential care facilities when used with people with dementia can improve mood, restlessness, communication, cognition and, depression, anxiety and increased happiness.  There is a wide range of other multi-sensory or therapeutic practices that work with the senses which are recommended for use in residential care. A survey of the literature and the use of multi-sensory therapies (including Snoezelen) of Victorian residential care facilities that use them for the management of dementia behaviours concluded that this practice is consistent with the move to a more holistic and person-centred approach to the care of older people but there is a need for better planned and implemented programs of multi-sensory interventions (M.Bauer et al, 2012).

My experience of using the Human Rooms concept has shown how the overall integrated and immersive environment that engages participants in a way that singular sensory elements cannot plus the capacity for the system to provide a wide range of content for varying needs allows staff to work safely and gently with patients.  By visiting other types of successful fully integrated sensory programs that use a wide range of art practices and being able to visit some of the worlds most incredible art and design sites as well as conducting further research into some of the fundamental influences on my own practice I will be able to develop holistic wellbeing programs that cater for specific needs within residential aged care. 

My program was to study a number of different hospital, residential and community based organisations, with people living with dementia and who have successfully implemented various arts practices into care frameworks. My aim was to learn what has been included, how it was done and the impact on residents, staff, carers and volunteers.    

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