'You want to see them every day': Underground tunnel helps elderly couples stay connected
Published Thursday, July 11, 2019 3:57PM EDT
A tunnel between a Kitchener long-term care facility and the retirement home next door is allowing elderly couples to stay in touch.
Carolyn McKay knows it well—she and her husband each live in one of the facilities, and use the "Tunnel of Love" to visit one another.
"It's shorter going this way than walking outside," she explains.
She says it's especially appreciated during the winter months and in harsh weather.
The 85-foot tunnel connects the Chartwell Westmount retirement and long-term care residences underground, allowing residents and friends to reconnect with ease.
Dawna Courtney works at the long-term care residence.
"We use that Tunnel of Love to really reconnect those relationships and know that they're only a few steps away is reassuring to the families," she says.
Ron Moir and his wife, Sonia, were originally living together, but health issues meant Sonia had to be moved to the long-term care facility.
"It's so simple to just come over," Ron Moir says. "If Sonia wants to come visit me, she doesn't have to get filled up with clothes and we just go through the tunnel and take the elevator up and down."
According to resident Catherine Schalk, about seven couples use the tunnel at the moment, but as many as 20 couples at a time have used it in the past.
"Of course, when you have lived with someone for 50 or 60 years, you want to see them every day and as much as possible," she says.
Residents and staff are now working on a mural to make the tunnel even more enjoyable.