Wellness Chair is being used on a trial basis in Stensrud Lodge

Wellness Chair is being used on trial basis in Stensrud Lodge   …..        By Trish Cheveldayoff        July 2018

Elders with dementia make up at least one-third of the 100 residents who reside in Stensrud Lodge. For their care-partners, dealing with the symptoms of dementia can be challenging. Behaviours associated with dementia can include aggression, restlessness, confusion and agitation. At Stensrud Lodge the staff need to, not only understand the behaviours associated with dementia, they must also come up with strategies to respond to them. Recently the staff of Stensrud Lodge was introduced to the Nordic Wellness Chair, a refreshing approach to wellness in elderly care.
“It’s unique in the marketplace,” says James Sparks, Product Manager for ARJO Saskatchewan. “It was developed in Scandinavia five or six years ago. It’s been well received there.”
ARJO is the company responsible for bringing the Nordic Chair to North America. Stensrud Lodge is the only place you will currently find the chair in Saskatchewan. Stensrud has one chair on loan for a six-week trial.
“It has three different functional settings; comfort, refresh and relax,” says James Sparks. “So, you can choose either of those. The refresh and relax are 20 minute settings that play selected music behind the resident’s ears and also does a slight rocking motion at certain speeds to kind of simulate being rocked like when you were young.”
The comfort setting is more long-term; up to two hours long. As well, the chair comes with a u-shaped cushion and a weighted blanket.
“Again, it’s similar to the rocking motion; it takes people back to a time when they were very comforted,” says James Sparks. “The weighted blanket can simulate being in the womb perhaps and it’s very comforting.”
Kelly Greenwood is the Director of Quality and Safety at Jubilee Residences Inc. He says the chair will be available for 3 weeks on the 1st floor of Stensrud Lodge. It will then be moved to the 2nd floor for another 3 week trial period.
“We already know we sometimes have agitated or confused elders,” says Kelly Greenwood. “The goal of this is to provide them with a way to calm down in a safe environment, as well as improve their quality of life.”
Deb Taylor is looking forward to seeing what the Nordic Wellness Chair can do for the residents who have confusion and who suffer from anxiety. The chair provides a calming sensory experience and will particularly benefit those residents who struggle in the early evening hours; often referred to as sundowning.
“The staff really struggle in the evenings because there are fewer staff on the evening shifts and that’s when sundowning occurs, that’s when the anxiety increases,” says Deb Taylor, V.P. of Quality and Safety for Jubilee Residences Inc. “It will actually free up some time for the staff, it will calm the elders to where they can actually enjoy having their supper, enjoy their bedtime snack, just enjoy the moments.”
She also sees the Nordic Wellness Chair replacing some medications that are currently being used to sedate residents.
“Is that the best way?” questions Deb Taylor. “Is medication the best way? By using the chair, instead of that groggy feeling, they can actually interact the rest of the day in a more meaningful way.”
As the residents try out the chair, their care-partners are being asked to track and document their findings. The feedback will help Jubilee Residences to determine if it should apply for funding to purchase the chair or multiple chairs.
“If they had signs of anxiety when they went into the chair, what happened in 15 minutes?” says Deb Taylor. “What happened in half an hour? Just track it.”
Kelly Greenwood says simply saying it didn’t work or didn’t make a difference won’t suffice.
“Trial it and give us feedback,” says Kelly Greenwood. “Did it actually meet our needs of calming the elder? Was there a significant decrease in anxiety? Was there any change in quality of life? Did the elder enjoy the experience they had?
ARJO also wants to hear from the staff. The feedback provided will help ARJO determine the chair’s marketability and price point.
“We don’t want to claim that this is a cure,” says James Sparks. “This is just a tool, another tool that you have available to you, to assist you in your challenges in dealing with residents with anxiety.”
Another tool, it appears, being welcomed at Stensrud Lodge that will hopefully make a positive difference in the quality of life for the residents who suffer from dementia.