Dementia Units at Mount St. Mary

She can’t remember the names of her children or how to find her room but a walk through the garden brings Judy such happiness. She reaches for the flowers feeling the rough texture of the leaves. She buries her face in the lilacs and then shares memories of growing up on a farm.

Mount St. Mary Hospital is creating safe, engaging, and appropriate indoor and outdoor space for residents with dementia to live in, explore and enjoy. All of the components of our dementia unit – sensory garden, “butterfly décor”, and a Snoezelen multi-sensory space – will help to reduce residents’ loneliness, aggression, tension, and anxiety. These spaces will promote independence and dignity and will encourage self-esteem, self-control, and self-confidence.

Butterfly Décor – $20,000: Fundraising Ongoing/Project Underway
Living spaces at Mount St. Mary Hospital are safe and functional. However, our goal is looking to create bright, colourful areas to engage residents. On exit doors, we would like door “skins” which would be a picture of a bookcase, a table, fireplace, or something similar. For exit-seeking residents, this keeps them safe as they are distracted and unaware there is access to service corridors. The images along walls will help promote the feeling of home rather than an institution. Other door skins will personalize the door into a resident’s private room. It allows residents to recognize and find their own doors and their sense of privacy and safety increases. By offering other areas such as a bus stop creates a world within the area they are living in.


Snoezelen Room – $40,000: Project Complete
Mount St. Mary Hospital is creating a Snoezelen Room which is a therapeutic environment which delivers high levels of stimuli to residents with dementia. Using the Snoezelen equipment, optical illusions are combined with lighting effects, aromas, colors, textures and sounds to stimulate a resident’s senses.

There are many benefits to this type of therapy. There is often increased resident and caregiver communication (both verbal and non-verbal) as this type of therapy often reduces a resident’s fears while enhancing their trust in people. Snoezelen and sensory therapy is proven effective in calming aggressive behavior and improving mood. Snoezelen is often an effective intervention for sundowning (late day agitation).

Those living with dementia are often sensory-deprived and in a Snoezelen room they receive a steady stream of stimuli which can increase their awareness and understanding of their environment. When residents have an elevated sense of awareness—both of self and their environment—they may experience improved self-esteem and feelings of frustration and inadequacy may be reduced.

Thank you to TELUS Friendly Future Foundation and Peninsula Co-op for their incredible support of this important project.


Sensory Garden – $175,000: Donation Opportunities still available/Project 95% Completed
The two dementia units are secure so having unrestricted access to a garden area will enhance the residents’ quality of life. Both houses have been renovated to create direct access from the house to the garden. Once the garden is complete, residents will be able to move freely from their house to the outdoor space. They will also have the choice to safely wander into the other house before returning to their home.

The old space was bare and uninviting.

The majority of the garden is complete. It is tailored to safely meet the therapeutic, physical and sensory needs of people living with dementia. The flowers, shrubs, and trees are either be edible or at least not harmful if ingested. There is scented plant material likely to invoke memories and encourage reminiscing. The walking paths are designed to be non-slip and non-trip and they are well-lit, drainable, and wide. The hardscape is a loop with destination points (benches, etc.) and no dead ends so as to encourage walking while guaranteeing the garden is less confusing to navigate.

We are now planning for the “extras” to make the space extra engaging for all residents – from a chicken coop where residents can collect real-life looking eggs to a basketball hoop for those with extra energy.

Why is Environment Important for Residents Living with Dementia?
Within healthcare, there is growing recognition that the physical environment can play a significant role in the care of residents with dementia. Stimulating and engaging environment encourage well being and independence and improve quality-of-life.

All of the components Mount St. Mary Hospital is implementing for our dementia units are economically sound, non-pharmacological strategies to enhance the lives of residents. Studies show exposure to warm, inviting, and home-like environments and with access to outdoors there is a reduction in pain, improvement in attention, and a change in stress responses.

Budget & Timeline
Our goal is to raise over $235,000 to transform the current spaces into dementia friendly areas that promote engagement and involvement of residents in their community. To date, we have raised $200,000 for the sensory garden, most of the snoezelen room, and a portion of the butterfly decor.


We are still fundraising for this important project. To make a gift, please click here. If you wish to make a gift over $2,500, please contact Greg Kuhn, Director of Philanthropy & Communications at or 250-480-3138 to learn more about recognition opportunities.