Residents experience colourful new world

The Lethbridge Artists Club has left its mark on the walls of St. Michael’s Health Centre. Its members have put in over 400 volunteer hours to beautify a common area linking four secure units, making it a colourful and safe place for residents to explore.

“We worked with the staff on the unit to develop the concepts for the five murals,” says Sue Willkie, one of the painters. “It was important for us to learn how to approach the murals so that they would be effective. We talked about colours and themes that the staff thought would work best for this project. We hope that we succeeded and that the residents and their families get a lot of joy from our work.”

Marie McLaren calls it a success. She volunteers on the unit and also cares for a loved one with dementia.

“I come in every day to see Doc; he is like my dad. I also take other residents for walks,” says Marie. "The murals make it homier, and the residents like the bright colours.”

Most of the residents on the floor have dementia, so the murals have been strategically placed to cover doors and elevators.

“When persons with dementia see an elevator or a doorway they may become anxious and want to leave. The mural can be calming; it acts as camouflage,” says Lisa Zubach, 2 West Resident Care Manager. “I have also seen the murals prompt interactions between my volunteers and staff and our residents. A picture of a gopher may start a conversation about life on the farm in Saskatchewan.”

Twelve painters donated their talents to the project, and the cost of the materials was covered by the facility.

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