Multi-purpose room turned '50s diner a blast from the past for Regina seniors

When the College Park Retirement Home wanted a new sensory room to engage residents, they came up with the idea of a '50s diner.

The College Park Retirement Home wanted a new sensory room to engage residents

Alvina Forsberg and Hank Reis stopped by to have a drink from a glass bottle in the '50s style diner. (Matt Duguid/CBC)

Alvina Forsberg, 90, and Hank Reis, 93, chat about old times as they sit at the chrome and Formica table, glass pop bottles in hand. Records and pop-culture icons adorn the walls and you might hear Elvis Presley on the juke box. 

The multi-purpose room at College Park Retirement Residence in Regina has been redesigned as a '50s style diner. 

"When I first saw this place, I got to thinking about my high school days," Hank Reis said.

He remembers going to diners like the room at the residence, attracted to the atmosphere and music, though the prices were a bit different back then. 

"A quarter got you a drink and a chocolate bar," he said. 

Jessica Erriha said the diner was a group effort by a number of people. (Matt Duguid/CBC)

Now, when Reis walks into the room, he says it reminds him of "the good old days."

"When you get my age, you look at memories more than looking ahead — and this is just another addition to make you feel more at home."

For Alvina Forsberg and Hank Reis, the '50s style diner room brings back memories of their high school days and younger years. (Matt Duguid/CBC)

College Park Retirement Residence Executive Director Jessica Er Riha says they wanted to create a new sensory room — a space that would stimulate all of the senses. 

"We really wanted to go for the nostalgia," she said. "We really want to take people back to the '50s back to their youth. And the residents love it. Their kids love it. And so this is a really great addition to our place."

Jessica Erriha wanted to add a new sensory room to the College Park Residences that took people back to their youth. (Matt Duguid/CBC)

Families can use the room for anniversaries and birthdays, and Er Riha says she has heard residents telling their grandchildren what it was like when they were younger.  

"We wanted a place that made people feel that time when things didn't really matter. When you were young and free," she said.

The 50s style diner even has an older style jukebox. (Matt Duguid/CBC)

Putting together the different elements of the room was a team effort. 

"We just had a vision; we ran with it," Er Riha said. "We did a grand opening and the residents just loved having the pop and popcorn [and] milkshakes."

The record wall was inspired by a mural at the Centennial Market, Jessica Erriha said. (Matt Duguid/CBC)

When she first saw the renovations, Alvina Forsberg says she thought, "Oh my heavens, what are they doing?" The grand opening was a happy surprise, though, and since then, she has loved coming down to visit with others. 

"It's like a big family here," Forsberg said. "The family atmosphere, that's what attracts me so much. I'm a real family person."

She says the diner brings back memories from the '50s.

"Those were good years," Forsberg said. "It's from the happy days — it was just fun to go out for a treat."

With files from Peter Mills and The Afternoon Edition.


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