Introducing the SONAS apc programme to Abbey Court Independent Hospital

Staff members at Abbey Court Independent Hospital have introduced the use of an innovative sensory programme to improve communication for the people they support living with dementia related conditions.

5 staff members (Lisa Kay – Registered Manager, Lisa White and Penny Lamb – Occupational Therapists, Lindsey Cooper – Registered Mental Health Nurse and Michelle Denny – Clinical Team Leader) have successfully become approved Sonas Licensed Practitioners following a 3 day intensive course in Ireland across a 3 month period.

The Sonas™ Activating Potential for Communication (aPc) programme is a therapeutic communication activity primarily for older people, which focuses on sensory stimulation, in the belief that the senses are the gateways to communication. The programme is person-centred and evidence based, and has been developed as a meaningful activity for people who have significant communication impairment, primarily as a result of dementia.

A structured programme of group and individual SONAS therapy sessions are being carried out by the staff team, with the aim to stimulate the senses of the people they support, provoke reminiscence and most of all share a smile whilst enjoying the fun activities. The use of a prerecorded CD enables the SONAS Practitioner to focus solely on the needs of the group and/or individual and provides a repetitive structure to each session. The sessions also allow the practitioners to be creative in their approach, drawing upon the essential features of Sonas apc, which are sensory, social and cognitive.

Lisa Kay, Registered Manager at Abbey Court Independent Hospital said: “The SONAS programme has been positively welcomed by all and the benefits have definitely improved the general well-being of the people we support. It is a pleasure to see peoples distress and frustration alleviated and a great way of spending time together to support people in their dementia journey.”

Lisa White, Occupational Therapist at AFG said: “This training has allowed me to improve my ability to communicate with people on their dementia journey, and witness how much pleasure and joy the therapy provides to the people we support, whilst  improving their wellbeing. I look forward to seeing how we can expand this into our learning disability services, and anticipate the same positive results.”

Carol Toner, Community Service Director at AFG said: “I am looking forward to seeing how the SONAS programme makes a positive difference to the people we support at Abbey Court.”

Sonas apc was created in 1990 by Sister Mary Threadgold, a Dublin based Sister of Charity and language therapist, she pioneered the programme out of concern about the lack of stimulation for older people with dementia in residential care. Sonas apc is a not-for-profit organisation and registered charity. The word ‘sonas’ is Gaelic and translates as wellbeing, joy and contentment.

To find out more about Sonas apc please visit their website: