9/22/2008

Artist Makes Nursing Home Look Like Home

Nursing homes can seem sterile places. An artist at a pediatric nursing home in Massachusetts is making one facility a bit more homey.

Recreational aide Theresa Munnis is creating a portrait gallery of residents at New England Pediatric Care (NEPC) in North Billerica.

When she is done the faces of more than 50 young people with complex medical needs and severe neurological impairments will welcome visitors through the main entrance.

The gallery was the brainchild of Anthony Terrasi, a designer hired to move the institutional d├ęcor “to the next level.”

“This is a residence – a home – for kids. What home doesn’t have pictures of its children?” says Anthony. “Theresa creates amazing likenesses – she brings out their soul!”

Theresa typically spends just one to three hours sketching an individual in pencil. She has worked at NEPC for 12 years and known many residents since her childhood when her father and brother worked there.

NEPC Executive Director Ellen O’Gorman became aware of Theresa’s talent when she began to draw portraits to give to families whose children had
passed away. The director subsequently involved her in beautification projects at the nursing home.

“We want to create an atmosphere that is whimsical but not juvenile, so that both residents and staff feel good when they are here,” O’Gorman said.

Other NEPC enhancements include new paint and cheerful flags to identify classrooms and offices. A resident’s family recently initiated a “Tiles for Smiles” campaign to provide ceiling art for the pleasure of residents who spend hours reclining in bed or in wheelchairs.

For information call (978)667-5123 or visit: http://www.nepediatriccare.org./