Identifying Sensory Preferences in People with Changes in Cognition: The SPACE Tool

Kate Laver, Fotini Yannelis, Stephen Flatman, Heather Block, Miia Rahja

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


People with changes in cognition and changes in sensory function often feel uncomfortable in hospital and residential care home environments. Understanding the person’s sensory preferences and aversions is important in providing high-quality care but current assessments have limitations. Our objective was to develop a tool to identify the sensory preferences and aversions of people experiencing cognitive changes while staying in hospital or residential care homes. The working group developed a tool comprising 11 items, which was named the “Sensory Preferences and Aversions questionnaire for the Care of older adults with dementia in residential Environments” (SPACE) tool. The tool was administered with 56 people with cognitive changes (mean age 78, mean MMSE score 16/30). Data elicited from the tool revealed the varied preferences of individuals, which demonstrates the importance of eliciting this information. For example, while 82% of participants liked listening to music, the remainder did not. Information elicited from the tool was useful in guiding care planning including identifying activities that may be of interest to the person. It was able to effectively elicit information about preferences, aversions, and strategies that could be applied when the person became distressed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-145
Number of pages13
JournalActivities, Adaptation and Aging
Issue number2
Early online date23 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • assessment
  • care planning
  • Dementia
  • hospital
  • residential care
  • senses
  • sensory


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