Residents of Imlay House are taking a therapeutic walk down memory lane, thanks to the creative efforts of local artists and staff who have visually recreated a 1950s streetscape through the hallways of the aged care facility.
The murals, which cover numerous walls, along with physical memorabilia displayed in situ, are the inspiration of Imlay’s diversional therapist, Sheridan Leftwich, who initiated the project in March this year.
Sheridan’s brief to the volunteer artists was to create visual stimuli that might suggest to residents of the high-care dementia wing that they were walking down a typical shopping strip in 1950s. The results are outstanding, and residents and staff have quickly embraced the murals as their new ‘neighbourhood’.
Sheridan said she will hear someone say they know they are almost back in their room when they “pass the pet shop”. Another resident may ask: “Can I get a loaf of bread from the bakers?”
Staff have also adopted the mural’s features as ‘landmarks’ and might, for example, ask a resident to meet “outside the florist”.
“Residents in this wing all have a cognitive impairment and usually don’t initiate activities independently,” Sheridan said, adding that the challenge was to create an environment that was safe, would evoke memories, but was not child-like.
She chose the 1950s for the theme as at that time these residents were “in the prime of their lives”.
Speaking to the News Weekly Imlay House CEO, Helen Ellwood, said: “I am absolutely thrilled with the project and so grateful to the artists who donated their time and talent.”
The artists, Katherine Hede, Di Tarrant, Pamela Collins and Audrey Taylor, have each donated up to 100 hours of their time to the project.
On behalf of the four, Katherine Hede said: “As artists it is rewarding to know that we have achieved the brief and at the same time were able to put something back into the community.”
There's an opportunity for members of the public to view the murals at their unveiling on Sunday, October 13 from 2pm until 4pm. Admission on the day to view the murals is $10 per person and includes Devonshire tea. A framed print donated by one of the artists will be raffled on the day. RSVP to Imlay House on 6495 8600.
Imlay House is also seeking sponsors to continue the mural project on the remaining walls in a new theme ‘a drive down a country lane’, which would recreate an idyllic rural scene. If you would like to assist, contact Sheridan Leftwich.