Innovative ‘magic table’ will help patients with mental illness in Weston-super-Mare

Staff nurse Nigel Pedley and non-executive director Malcolm Shepherd using the table.

Staff nurse Nigel Pedley and non-executive director Malcolm Shepherd using the table. - Credit: Archant

An innovative piece of equipment which helps people in late stage dementia is available to patients in Weston-super-Mare.

Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership (AWP) NHS Trust is the first in the country to have a Tovertafel, or ‘magic table’.

The Tovertafel is an award-winning piece of equipment from the Netherlands which is designed to help people with dementia to be more active and create moments of happiness.

Tovertafel contains a projector, infrared sensors, a speaker and processor which work together to project interactive games onto a table.

The light games encourage players to reach towards them and the lights respond to their hand and arm movements, allowing them to play with the light.

Patients in the dune ward of the Long Fox Unit, which is a short-stay unit designed for the assessment of people with a variety of mental health problems including dementia, have been making use of the new equipment.

Consultant psychiatrist, Tiff Earle said: “I was lucky enough to secure a demonstration of the ToverTafel on our dementia ward, earlier this year.

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“The response from service users was truly magical to see and we were all left astounded at the positive impact it had.

“Many of them were smiling, some agitated service users became calm and engaged and withdrawn service users started to engage.

“We were determined to have one installed from that point onwards – and are hugely grateful to the Headlight charity and its trustees, for providing the significant extra funding needed to achieve this aim.”

The Tovertafel had been paid for through fundraising and AWP’s official charity Headlight.

AWP’s fundraising manager, Tia Shortall, said: When we heard Dr Tiff Earle was fundraising for this magic piece of kit, we thought it sounded like a great idea.

“The Tovertafel is a true delight for service users with dementia, but it doesn’t come cheap.

“After Dr Earl raised over £1,800 towards the Tovertafel, Headlight donated the remaining £5,300 to enable dune ward to go ahead and have the kit installed.

“We are looking forward to seeing the difference it makes for service users, and to life on the ward.”