As part of the ‘play’ module which we studied at university, we were generously invited along to Rompa to meet the people who were designing and developing sensory equipment and toys for a wide range of clients. The day began with an introduction with Tania, an Occupational Therapist who works in the role of a Product Assistant. Tania firstly spoke about her journey into this role and about how her experiences on practice placements as an OT helped her to identify barriers and enablers to the development of sensory products. We then heard some history about the company and discussed the need for sensory based equipment and toys for use within therapy. Following our discussion and a browse through the Rompa catalogue, we were guided through the set-up sensory room which incorporated products designed and built by the staff at Rompa. The products were demonstrated and explained to us and we had time to think about how each product could be utilised by an OT and graded for our clients. We initially focussed on children and how these products could be used within a paediatric setting (as this was relevant to our ‘play’ module) however soon discovered uses for these products for a wider range of clients such as stroke patients, dementia patients and those with mental health conditions.
After a tour around the sensory room and introductions to the toys and equipment, we were given the opportunity to explore the equipment for ourselves and to apply the ‘sensory magic’ technology to a given case study. Our case study involved preparing a sensory room for a group of children with ASD whom had been for a day trip to the fair. This was a very fun and educational task which really got us thinking and working collaboratively to utilise the equipment we were given. This involved bubble lamps, various lights presented in creative ways around the room and ‘sensory magic’ which allowed us to select music as well as a video or still image on the interactive screen for added sensory input.
We really liked that these toys and gadgets are not just for kids. They are used for adults with dementia too as well as well as clients with different abilities and needs which makes them much more widely used and applicable to areas of practice! However there may be a lack of availability of the equipment to play with from the wide catalogue range and this equipment is sadly not always affordable for all clients despite the value for money which Rompa offer.
From our experience of visiting Rompa, we learnt that the use of sensory equipment can promote wellbeing for individuals living with a multitude of conditions. These can range from individuals on the autistic spectrum to older adults living with dementia. It has been a crucial learning experience which has contributed to our development as up and coming Occupational Therapy graduates. It will be beneficial to be aware of the variety of sensory equipment that is available in our professional working with individuals with sensory difficulties. We also learnt that Occupational Therapists have unique skills that allow them to work in a variety of non – traditional positions.
Overall, our visit to Rompa was extremely interesting and inspiring. It allowed us as therapists to visualise ways in which we can assist our clients with sensory impairments to become fully involved within their own environment. The demonstration of the ‘Sensory Magic’ programme allowed us to appreciate how much technology has advanced over recent years and enlightened us to the possibilities of incorporating the whole room with visual effects, sounds and smells, using one user friendly piece of equipment. As therapists, it is highly beneficial for us to be able to offer advice and educate our client groups on the available equipment for children and/or adults with Sensory Impairments, therefore this opportunity has been an invaluable step for us to gain first-hand knowledge and experience of the products and how they can be used to assist clients with sensory needs to live a more happy and fulfilled life.
We are now aware of the many types of sensory equipment available to us as OT’s and how these can be used in a variety of ways with different client groups within therapy. We would now consider using Rompa for advice and equipment in our future practice to enhance the lives of our clients with and without sensory conditions.
We would finally like to say a big thank you to Tania and the entire Rompa team for facilitating this valuable experience and would recommend this service and their products to Occupational Therapists and other allied health professionals working within any area of practice!
By Rosie Turner, Jodie Marx, Anna Marshall-Clarke, Andrea Erskine , Joanna Smith, Rosie Linder, Siobhan McPhillips and Laura Higgleton.
3rd Year OT Students, Derby University.