Both in Sweden and abroad, the Sunwell concept with light therapy in a sunroom is used successfully in hundreds of municipal and private nursing homes to promote health and well-being. Our Nordic neighbor Denmark has also followed the trend and invested in its first sunroom at the municipal nursing home Plejehjemmet Ørbygård in Rødovre to counteract the lack of sunlight for the elderly during the dark Scandinavian winters.
Activity leader and therapist Annemarie Garvold, who previously worked as a manager at the famous nursing home Lottehjemmet in Copenhagen (https://www.blomsterfonden.se/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Alma-38.pdf) took her view on humanity and joy into Ørbygård. The inspiration for a “sensoric room” came in 2017 at the Dementia Days in Tivoli’s congress center in Copenhagen, where Annemarie received a brochure about the Swedish concept of sunrooms.
Annemarie passed the information on to the manager Helga Skovmand Eriksen at Ørbygård and both completely agreed that a de-stressing therapy room with sun, light and heat was just right for their elderly. After a few years of planning, all details came into place and in October 2021, a very first Sunwell sunroom with a solar system of model Triple was installed along with a tropical coast backdrop that reflects the light and enhances the effect of sunlight therapy.
– We are really happy with our sunroom, a place to really relax and enjoy the sun’s life-giving rays. Due to staff holiday, we have just started using the sunroom so there have not been that many residents and staff up there yet. But the residents who have tried sun therapy are so happy about it, and ask to come back again. I am sure that the sunroom will be a place that we will use a lot, says Helga Skovmand Eriksen.
Helga continues: – We have initially written about the sunroom in our internal magazine “Beboer-blad”, and a little on our website (https://www.rk.dk/pl-oerbygaar …), and also informed relatives. Last week we had a visit from our mayor and the Minister for the Elderly, and they also got to test sitting in the sunroom. Both were very excited!
Sunlight therapy has both a calming and stimulating effect and fulfills an important social function. Regular stays in sunrooms mean great benefits both in the form of happy, well-being seniors with lower care needs and, for example, in reduced costs for sleeping pills and sedatives. In a nice sunroom, the elderly can socialize, relax, ventilate different emotions and leave everyday life for a while. Older people with dementia become easier to activate in a nice warm authentic solar environment that they can relate to from their youth or a previous holiday trips.
Many nursing homes are discovering that sunrooms not only increase the well-being of the elderly, but also create a better environment for staff. There are also studies that show reduced sick leave among employees thanks to the health-promoting sunlight from Sunwell.