Photo by Irene Miller, Photographic Art, Stratford, Ontario
Making Art Work
Formerly known as BKRC Art Effects, Karen and Brian Romeril are a team who design, draw and paint – with Brian specializing in perspective drawing techniques and Karen as principal painter.
After living in and travelling around Europe for 12 years and Florida for 6 years, they returned to Canada in 2000 and shortly after arriving, were asked to provide their artwork to such projects as the Avon Theatre’s renovation, the restaurant Falstaff's, the Discovery Centre (old "Normal School") and the luxury hotel “The Bruce”, in Stratford, Ontario.
In 2010 they were asked to disguise some doors in an Alzheimer’s Unit of a Long Term Care Home to relieve the frustration of exit-seeking residents. That idea “snowballed” and the Romerils have now completed over 300 “exit diversions” on doors. It was during one of these projects that they had a chance encounter with Gail Elliot, Gerontologist, then Assistant Director of the Gilbrea Centre for Studies in Aging at McMaster University (now with her own consultancy, “DementiAbility”). Ms. Elliot advised the Romerils of the need for “Wayfinding” signage to help persons living at home with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia to find important places and things in their environment. With Gail’s guidance and encouragement, Karen and Brian researched how cupboard and drawer contents were usually organized, and then designed and painted a series of “cupboard covers” that were transferred to a unique peel-and-stick material that is easily removed, without leaving any gooey residue or damage from stable surfaces, when removed. Memory M-AID® was born!
In 2013, Memory M-AID® was used by the Alzheimer Society of Hamilton and Halton in their "New Horizons" study to discover the effectiveness of such way-finding imagery in helping people with Alzheimer's disease, (or a related dementia) to find important places and things in the home. Results demonstrated significant improvements for this purpose and significant reductions in negative behaviours such as frustration and anxiety. An unexpected side benefit was the time saved by visiting caregivers in their ability to find things quickly in assisting people. Karen and Brian have since joined forces with Gail Elliot in providing imagery for the book "Memory Aids for Dementia" available from Dementiability Enterprises www.dementiability.com/books.
While continuing to create murals and paint effects in high-traffic commercial arenas, the Romerils are proud to be also "painting life better" for persons with dementia, whose lives play out mostly behind doors, on secured-for-safety Memory Care floors of Long Term Care facilities. To this group they provide activities, uplifting murals, exit diversions (to increase safety and relieve anxiety). In a sense...making Art WORK.
Karen and Brian welcome your comments and suggestions!