What was that? A haunted house in a long-term care community?
According to Melissa Elliott, Director of Resident Programs (DRPA) at Langstaff Square Care Community, where the creepy cavern is set up in the basement for Halloween—it is great therapy for all, especially residents and employees.
“We have been able to adapt it specifically to whomever is going through,” says Melissa. “For residents, the response I always get is, ‘the scarier the better’. They really are our true daredevils!”
Melissa has been running a haunted house for the past eight years, bringing it to Langstaff Square for the first time since transferring from Fountain View earlier this year. She says that this one is “the best haunted house I have ever done, with a bigger budget to purchase animatronics, sound effects, props and costumes that have all added to the spookiness.”
The Haunted House contains a series of rooms, each more terrifying than the last. A guest book signs your name all on its own, and a talking tree stands as the final frontier warning you not to enter. Your guide is a vampire temptress with a striking resemblance to Melissa, who escorts visitors from room to room where ghoulish hands reach through walls to grab at you.
Once through the creaky entrance door, an 8-foot devil bellows with rage as light distorts your vision and sound effects unsettle your every step, plunging you into the depths of fear. Victorian-style haunted portraits shape-shift before your eyes. And if you’re scared of spiders, you might want to run through the room with the GIANT, hairy tarantulas leaping at you from the shadows with fire-red eyes.
Should your nerves still be intact by this point, you still have to bypass the hysterical witch, a mad scientist and his assortment of body parts, zombies crawling out of open graves, and blinding fog that clambers up your legs from ancient tombstones and discarded skulls. Now you have earned your cookies and witches brew as you gratefully exit the house.
Personal support workers Virgilia and Mariluz were among the first employees at Langstaff Square to tour the haunted house on the first day. Both ladies originate from the Philippines, and explain how Halloween is celebrated there as All Saints days, which is a period to remember and pray for departed loves ones. They have embraced the tradition here in Canada, and are great sports for daring to venture into the dark void below.
Several team members from Langstaff Square volunteered to play the characters in the house, donning masks and costumes, and acting the part of seasoned stage performers for each tour.
The Haunted House runs throughout the week of October 26. It’s free for residents and team members, and is open to the public on October 31 with a $5 admission.