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Sensory modulation

Whakaāio ā-rongo or sensory modulation is an evidence based tool that supports trauma informed approaches and reduction of restrictive practices and is recognised within the Six Core Strategies©. Sensory Modulation has proven to have a positive impact on people accessing these services.

The use of sensory tools supports people to use their senses to learn self-soothing techniques and change their current emotional and behavioural responses to a stressful situation. Examples of tools are music, essential oils, rocking chairs, weighted items and massage chairs.

Research shows that sensory modulation is very useful and an easy to learn set of skills that people find helpful. See the following reports for more details about the use of sensory modulation in Aotearoa New Zealand mental health services:

Train the trainer

Te Pou co-delivered a series of sensory modulation workshops in 2019/2020 to equip the workforce with the knowledge and skills to use sensory modulation. To sustain the ongoing development and use of sensory modulation, Te Pou provided a refresher training for trainers as well as an opportunity to develop new trainers to deliver this training in their local areas in 2021.

The two-day sensory modulation train the trainer workshop was designed to assist districts to build their own capability to deliver training.

Te Pou has produced a full evaluation report on the sensory modulation train-the-trainer workshop. The purpose of this evaluation was to identify whether participants’ understanding and confidence in the training and facilitation of sensory modulation increased as a result of attending the train-the-trainer workshop. A summary infographic of the train-the-trainer evaluation is also available.

E-learning resources

Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand Counties Manukau have developed an introductory sensory modulation module. All Te Whatu Ora staff have access to this at Ko Awatea LEARN.

Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand Capital, Coast and Hutt Valley has developed an interactive e-learning about the foundational principles and practical application of sensory modulation and have kindly offered to share the e-learning on request. Please contact our Te Pou project co-leads if you would like to access this resource for your service.

Please note that both these e-learning resources contain information and directions that are relevant to the hosting Te Whatu Ora locality. Policies and guidance from your own Te Whatu Ora locality should always take precedence.

Video resources

Dr Gilbert Azuela talks about sensory modulation in Aotearoa New Zealand.

This webinar co-facilitated by Dr Gilbert Azuela and Caro Swanson, introduces using sensory strategies to cope with challenging situations.

Sensory modulation national practice group

The national practice group supports the sustainable implementation of sensory modulation across Te Whatu Ora health localities. The group is comprised of interested practitioners from across Aotearoa New Zealand. Contact our Te Pou project co-leads if you are interested in learning more about the group. The terms of reference of this group is available here.




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