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Team members at The Meadows Long Term Care Home show off their smiles behind the masks

Smiles behind the mask

Hero buttons show our faces
There is no doubt that we are living in strange and challenging times. For many of us, seeing people wearing masks in public is still an unusual sight, despite it being a requirement for several weeks. For people working in long term care homes, masks have been a necessary precaution for months now. Even though residents are used to staff wearing protective masks, it still doesn’t feel normal. Residents miss being able to see the friendly faces behind the masks and being able to share a smile. With this in mind, the creative team at The Meadows Long Term Care Home in Ancaster, Ontario came up with a solution: “hero buttons.”
“These hero buttons serve as a reminder that there are smiling and friendly faces behind the masks.”
To help residents more easily identify their caregivers, they began making buttons that showed the team members’ faces. Employees attach the buttons to their lanyards next to their name tags to help residents recognize them. This was an added way for residents to see the smiling faces of staff members despite the masks they wear. It’s also a creative and person-centred way for staff to stay connected with residents during the pandemic.

Face perception is a powerful function of our brain, allowing us to interpret and understand many things about another person. Face perception is what allows us to identify people we know from a crowd of individuals, but it also plays an important role in how we navigate our daily interactions. It helps us to understand emotions and other social information that informs our behaviours as we subconsciously take cues from how our brain reads people’s faces. Masks obstruct our ability to see a person’s full face and as a result we lose out on some of those important physical cues that our faces express. These hero buttons serve as a reminder that there are smiling and friendly faces behind the masks.

The hero buttons at The Meadows are worn as badges of honour, with some proudly proclaiming “Hero behind the mask.” The workers on the frontlines of the global pandemic have proven themselves to be heroes and we are incredibly grateful for their dedication and hard work.