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Art murals at Peterborough Regional Health Centre spark positive memories for patients

For the last three years, Terrence Edwin Staples has been a patient at the Peterborough Regional Health Centre’s C3 inpatient unit. Staples used to sing with his father growing up on the family farm — a memory triggered by a new mural painted on the wall in his hospital unit.

“It cheers you up to see all these paintings. When my daughter came from Montreal today to visit me, it was really something,” said Staples.

The Art School of Peterborough executive director Jenni Johnston says that was the goal.

READ MORE: Peterborough ‘Mombassadors’ put their kids to work, raise $3,000 for PRHC

“I saw the difference from when it was just drawings on the wall to, as soon as the paint hit, patients were more vocal with us. They loved the flowers, but as soon as we painted the farmland, we got stories about what happened in their past, where they grew up. It was very evident that it was making a difference instantaneously,” said Johnston.

The painting started in mid-October and wrapped up at the end of November. Sixteen art students volunteered for the project, which took 400 hours to complete.

“We decided to treat each hallway with a different theme so the first, entering into the unit, we have flowers; it’s a nice kind of feel walking through the garden. We then went onto the other hallway, taking on a farm. We also incorporated the city,” explained Johnston.

READ MORE: PRHC introduces new Smilezone area in pediatric outpatient clinic

Andrew Dodgson, unit manager of the C3 inpatient unit, says the murals help ground and relax patients, especially those who have dementia.

“People who live in a world of dementia, it gets very narrow so if you’re walking down a hallway that is all one colour or very bland, there is no interaction,” explained Dodgson. “They don’t see themselves belonging. When they enter an area and see fields or trees or shops, all of a sudden they have something to relate to. They get more relaxed, not pacing around.”

For Staples, the colourful murals have triggered happy memories.

“I think the staff and the workers here do a tremendous job, and they give you first-class care,” said Staples.

Based on the success of this project, the hospital says it’s hoping to partner with the Art School of Peterborough again in the near future.

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