Sudbury

Sudbury dementia sufferers' stress eased by murals painted on doors

Residents with dementia at Finlandia nursing home in Sudbury are spending less time trying to escape after murals were painted on some of the doors.

Sudbury nursing home makes locked doors disappear for residents with dementia

An exit is disguised as a bookshelf so that residents at Sudbury's Finlandia nursing home feel less confined. (Marina Von Stackelberg/CBC)
Finlandia nursing home in Sudbury has come up with a very creative way to deal with dementia patients who try to leave the facility. They've painted murals on the doors. The CBC's Marina von Stackelberg went to check it out. 5:47

Residents with dementia at Finlandia nursing home in Sudbury are spending less time trying to escape after murals were painted on some of the doors.

Personal support worker Michael Rodda says the new artwork on the locked doors at the Finlandia nursing home have a calming effect on residents. (Marina Von Stackelberg/CBC)
Staff at the home say doors need to be locked for the safety of residents who sometimes forget where they are and try to leave. But, all those locked doors caused a lot of stress.

To help ease the anxiety, artists were hired to paint the doors with calming images that make residents feel more at home.

"We used to have a lot of people at the doors, banging the doors all day long to try to get out," said personal support worker Michael Rodda. "Since we've put the mural up, I've found that there's a lot less people hanging around that area trying to make the obvious exit."

Nursing home resident Louise Mokohonuk says seeing artwork instead of a locked door helps her feel more comfortable. (Marina Von Stackelberg/CBC)
The first mural was a painted bookshelf. It worked so well that others were painted on doors throughout the facility. The room where residents are bathed now features a mountain scene.

"It looks real, you know? It's beautiful," said resident Louise Mokohonuk. "They make me feel comfortable."

Now that the doors no longer look like doors, they're an opening for residents to think about something else, Rodda said.

"When you go by a mural and they'll look up and they'll check it out and they'll smile at it as opposed to nothing," he said. "I think it stimulates them."

Mokohonuk, an artist herself, said the murals are inspiring her to paint again.

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