Music and laughter intertwine, composing a symphony of glee as residents chat, sing, dance, and paint. This is the memory care section of Muskoka Shores Care Community in Gravenhurst, where each month Nancy Hunter comes in to paint with the residents.
“Residents love that class because the teacher is very interactive, and a lot of times she’ll make a theme for the class,” said Shari Ecclestone, program director at Muskoka Shores. “She always has music, so it’s a lot of fun. They paint, but they also reminisce, and they dance and they sing. They have a ball!”
Nancy has been painting with the residents for 10 years. She visits each floor every month, but it’s only on the memory care floor that all of the residents work on a single painting together. Their work is sold in auctions at Muskoka Shores, which are open to family, friends and team members. All proceeds go to the residents’ council. Paintings usually sell for about $30 or less, but have gone for as much as $110.
Generally, the resident artists’ all sign their names at the bottom of the painting; Shari said this is something that most team members really enjoy when they buy the art, because it makes the art a memory of the resident.
The popularity of the artwork helped inspire the team at Muskoka Shores to collect prints of the paintings and fashion them into a calendar. This way, people who were unable to acquire the art in the auction would still be able to have a copy of it. Shari said that they ordered a total of 120 calendars, which sold out almost instantly. The calendars were $5, with all proceeds going to the residents’ council. Because of their success, the team at Muskoka Shores is already planning to do a calendar for next year.
“I honestly think that the residents have a comradery between them. They work on the art together, and they’re really proud when it’s done,” said Shari. “We saw the pictures and we wanted to share them with people, and we just thought what a better way than to make calendars? Especially for families to see them.”