Lifelike murals decreasing agitation at Sudbury LTC home

Residents, family members and staff at Finlandia Village are discovering that maintaining a peaceful, tranquil environment with less agitation and wandering from people with cognitive impairment has been as simple as adding some beautiful murals to doors.

Recently, the Sudbury long-term care home hired local artist Monique Legault to create murals on exit doors in the secured areas depicting bookcases and vases, among other homey features like a painted grandfather clock on a wall, to dissuade residents with dementia from trying to leave.

The idea came from front-line staff members who attended a two-day workshop in 2014 focused on reducing agitation for people with dementia through holistic approaches.

Disguising exit doors as fixtures in rooms was one of the concepts discussed, and staff members attending the workshop were excited to bring the idea to life at Finlandia Village, says administrator Angela Harvey.

“And I thought, what a fantastic idea,” Harvey says. “Our residents do exit-seek quite often and they do stand by the doors, because that’s where the most commotion they see is going on.

“Now they’re not looking at the area as areas of commotion. They’re looking at the doors as something that’s visually appealing and reminds them of home.”

The added bonus of the murals is that residents who do not have cognitive impairment, as well as families and staff members, are enjoying the ambience the murals create, Harvey says.

The murals, Harvey adds, also help eliminate the “facility feel.”

“It reminds you of being at home,” she says.

The home’s seven murals have even created a flurry of media attention; CBC News, the Sudbury Star and CTV News have all featured stories about the artwork and its impact on residents.

Harvey commends Finlandia Village’s front-line staff members for bringing this idea to the forefront.

“It shows they’re resident-centred and that they want to make a difference in the lives of the residents,” she says.

Personal support worker Michael Rodda was one of the front-line staff members who brought the idea to the attention of Finlandia Village’s management. He also attests to the value the murals are bringing to residents.

“The paintings create a homey feel to our area, both stimulating and relaxing the residents and staff,” he says.

Sitting in one of the rooms with murals, resident Louise Mokohonuk commends Legault for the artistic atmosphere she’s created.

“She is a beautiful artist,” the resident says. “I love it, she does beautiful work.”