For many people living in long-term care facilities, the isolation that came with pandemic restrictions has taken a heavy toll.
“It was difficult. A lot of loneliness,” said Dorothy de Vuyst, executive director of Salem Association for Senior Citizens Care in southwest Calgary. “We could see that residents were kind of deflating.”
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“At first it was very disturbing and scary. One night I thought enough of this. I’m going to start something,” recalled Shalem resident Florence Lowry.
Lowry decided to make the best of a miserable situation. She did something she always wanted to do and wrote a book of poems while other residents at Shalem Seniors Community began painting.
“It was something to do to pass the time while I was locked in the room. COVID took quite a long time,” resident Lou Damphousse said
During the time residents were confined to the building, staff encouraged them to explore new hobbies. Some started taking art lessons from an in-house painting instructor.
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“It’s just amazing how she taught us,” resident Jill Moroney said. She said she surprised herself with her ability to create art after just a few lessons.
This week, all the works of art completed during the pandemic were displayed in the corridors of the centre.
“It’s great,” Lowry said. “It just wakes up the place to have all these pictures that people have made and it makes me realize there are a lot of artists and a lot of talented people living in our place.”
The supportive living center now looks more like an art gallery with all the paintings and wood carvings on display – complete with plaques that include the artists’ names.
Eight-six-year-old Lou Damphousse said it was proof that when life throws you lemons, you have to get creative – and that you’re never too old to learn a new skill or polish an old one. not too smart.
“Painting is a pastime and it’s very creative. You learn as you go. One thing about painting – you can always do it again, make it better or maybe worse,” Damphousse said with a laugh.
During the time of the pandemic restrictions, Shalem also teamed up with local photographer Shallon Cunningham with the goal of capturing the “kitchen wisdom” and food memories of the residents.
A photo gallery of these images is also on display at the centre.
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