People living with dementia can experience many difficulties, including confusion, disorientation and difficulties with language. Sonas sessions follow a clear structure and are repeated over time. This supports familiarity, a sense of safety and communication. The sessions are carried out by trained Sonas Programme Licensed Practitioners (SPLP).
Sonas Group Sessions
The aim of the Sonas Group Session is to tap into the person with dementia’s many retained skills, abilities and memories. The Sonas Group Session uses music, sensory stimulation and memory-focused exercises to offset the problems that a person with dementia can have with thinking, language and social interaction.
The Sonas Group Session bypasses the need for language and understanding, instead creating a relaxed, engaging experience. It does this by:
- Giving people quality time and stimulating their senses
- Encouraging a person to take their own initiative and contribute within a lively group rather than passively sit alone
- Reducing confusion, stress and anxiety
- Facilitating social interaction and relaxation
- Triggering memories with memorable scents, sights and music
- Empowering a person who often has little opportunity for engagement with others
- Raising awareness of surroundings
- Stimulating the long-term memories and skills that a person retains long into dementia
- Creating real connections
- Offering the opportunity for a sense of belonging
- Tapping in to memories using music from a person’s youth
Sonas Individual Multisensory Session (SIMS)
The SIMS session is an adaptation of the Sonas Group Session for use on a one to one basis. The aim of SIMS is the same as that of the Group Session – to provide a socially and cognitively stimulating activity that maximises opportunities for engagement and communication. It is especially helpful for a person who finds group situations stressful and confusing, or whose behaviour is difficult for others to understand or positively respond to. It also gives the Sonas Programme Licensed Practitioner (SPLP) opportunities to find the person’s treasured memories and tunes, and bring that knowledge to the next session and the person’s daily life. The SPLP might discover that the person loves Elvis, and choose an Elvis song for the following week’s SIMS Session. SIMS can be used in either a residential or day centre setting, or the family home.
Relaxing Individual Session
The aim here is to Relax, Relate and Communicate with the person living with dementia. The session creates a relaxing, interactive environment which facilitates communication through music and touch. People who experience agitation and restlessness often especially enjoy this quiet, relaxing session. The soft music and gentle massage of hands, shoulders and head can reduce a person’s confusion, irritation and anxiety. Some nursing home residents choose to stay in their bedroom all day, finding the general environment noisy and confusing. They can also often experience fear and anxiety. Their behaviour can be difficult for others to understand and so they may be isolated, with little social interaction. With the Relaxing Individual Session, the Sonas Programme Licensed Practitioner (SPLP) can give one to one attention to the person, gently responding to them and giving them the opportunity for human connection. The Relaxing Individual Session can be carried out with someone in a nursing home or the family home.
The Threadgold Communication Tool (TCT) is the core evaluation tool used to measure whether and how a person is benefiting from participation in Sonas sessions. It is now a validated tool for measuring the communication abilities of people with moderate to severe dementia. The tool was formalised and validated as part of a major research project that examined the effectiveness of the Sonas programme. It is designed to measure non-verbal communication, and how it changes over time. It focuses on evidence of positive non-verbal communication, including eye contact, laughter, gestures and facial expressions, and gives a ranking scale to tell whether a person has mild to significant communication difficulties.