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Smell and connect – a great new product for emotional responses

Smell and Connect – A Great Product

 

It’s been a great few days at The OT Show at the NEC. I was fortunate to be representing the Sensory Integration Network, promoting courses available on site (saves travel!) in sensory integration. During the breaks I was able to explore various products. Of course the usual interesting products were around, including adaptive cutlery, wheelchairs, hoists, sensory dens, etc. Some innovate and great stuff was about.

One thing that stood out to me (maybe because of my work in mental health and sensory integration) were ‘Smell and Connect cards’. Passing the stand I noticed some ‘sniffable’ cards. Freshly cut grass, baby powder etc. It’s hard not to pick things up and smell them isn’t it? And this is because of our emotional memory closely associated with smell. Our sense of smell is inherently connected to emotion via the amygdala, hippocampus and frontal cortex.

 

Smell can bypass the cortex and directly activate the amygdala resulting in smell often eliciting strong emotional responses. Even if we have forgotten an event at times we can ‘tag’ a particular emotion to a particular smell. Basically, smell is powerful

 

The enthusiastic stand holder started to explain that the prototype of this product had been used with their mother in end stage dementia. She didn’t know who anyone was. The impact on using smell with her had been magical. I fully understand why. How many clients are non-verbal, or highly distressed? How may have forgotten precious memories or struggle to unlock them? Who doesn’t want to be transported back to a childhood picnic?

 

Is this key to changing the way we support clients? How about the patient with ‘locked in’ syndrome in HDU or in a coma? Can we use smell to illicit response? Can we accompany this with sound? What about on mental health wards? Can we add these cards to self-sooth boxes or use smell in a group session to ease social engagement for people struggling to participate? And of course the obvious use in dementia to bring quality of life in those few precious year?s

 

For me, this is a significant product. The scents are high quality (the grass for example really does smell like grass as oppose to a synthetic smell you can sometimes get).

The smellandconnect cards are functional – in wards, hospitals, care homes, living environments, special schools and beyond.

The price point was pretty good and the design was ideal as there was a clever little package specifically designed for nursing staff for example to quickly use which was highly practical.

I love this product and will be integrating it into my practice in mental health and with Autistic Spectrum Disorders.

 

Lets get the word out there about this product!

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