Ross Memorial Hospital - Kawartha Lakes
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Students' mural brightens Continuing Care wing at Ross Memorial

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June 20, 2019 - Two art students from Lindsay Collegiate are making their mark on Ross Memorial Hospital — specifically, on the walls of the Geriatric Engagement and Re-integration (GERI) Unit in the Continuing Care wing. Hanna Gowan and Mackenzie Browne have spent the last several weeks designing and painting two flower murals.

“After some back and forth with the team assembling the project, we came to the decision that floral imagery would be best,” said Hanna. “The flowers are common ones that you would see locally, therefore it is something familiar and possibly nostalgic for the patients to look at. Also, flowers are simply pleasing to the eye in general.”

Geriatric Nurse Practitioner and Senior Services Manager Julie Airth initiated the mural project.

“The growing senior population in the Kawartha Lakes region, and the expanding waitlist for Long Term Care (LTC) homes has resulted in high numbers of our senior population that are forced to live in hospital while they wait for a LTC bed, sometimes upwards of 1-2 years. The GERI unit has grown in structure, size and resources to accommodate and foster these wonderful seniors through recreation therapy, open dining room, music and pet therapy. Our thought was to continue to make the GERI unit a positive place to be while they wait LTC. Painting the walls with beautiful, larger-than-life flowers and stunning lakeside scenes is a way to bring the outdoors in and offer a therapeutic calming aspect to their day.”

In addition to the painted murals, graphics with bus stop and lakeside scenes will be attached to certain walls and doorways as diversion therapy. 

“Wall murals are an excellent way to create different meaningful spaces for many of our seniors residing with us,” said Julie. “In addition to offering beautiful scenery and imagery to look at, wall murals also provide an exit diversion for our seniors that wander. The wall murals provide a safe and easy exit diversion where they might otherwise attempt to open the doors, now they stop and look at the scene.”

“It has been amazing to watch the patients stop and look at the flowers. They have become a topic of conversation and a gathering point! It was also really wonderful to have the two fantastic high school students in the unit. The cross-generational interactions were wonderful to watch unfold!”

Hanna and Mackenzie are touched by the reaction of the patients and staff.

“The most enjoyable part of this project was definitely the reactions from the people in the unit and the visitors. There’s no better feeling than knowing you’ve done something that can brighten someone’s day or simply put a smile on their face, especially when it involves something you’re so passionate about, which for us is art,” said Mackenzie. “We are both very adamant about the positive affects of art in society, and this project was an incredible way for us to portray that.”

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