Kathy Derksen, president of the Hospice Society’s board, spoke at the official opening of the new facility on Friday, May 27. The first patients and families arrive on May 31. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Kathy Derksen, president of the Hospice Society’s board, spoke at the official opening of the new facility on Friday, May 27. The first patients and families arrive on May 31. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Langley’s new hospice set to open its doors

The facility also has a new name, courtesy of a supportive local family

After years of fundraising and organizing, the new standalone Doug and Fran MacDonald Langley Hospice Residence was officially opened on Friday.

“It’s about living well, right to the end,” said Kathy Derksen, president of the Langley Hospice Society’s board.

On Tuesday, May 31, staff and volunteers and the first patients will arrive at the new centre, moving from their previous home on the nearby Langley Memorial Hospital campus.

Derksen said when staff and volunteers arrive, it will “truly bring the heart into our new home.”

Hospice care is for people who are at the end of life, and the goal behind creating this new 16,000-square-foot building on 52nd Avenue just downhill from the hospital.

The new 15-bed hospice replaces and upgrades on the previous 10-bed facility.

At the new building, every room is private, with more space, doorways leading directly outside into courtyards or side yards, small fridges, and pullout couches for the residents’ family members.

There is a spa room with a specialized bath, blanket warmers, private washrooms, handwashing stations in the halls, and artistic touches, such as a mural created by local artist Felicity Holmes.

RELATED: VIDEO – Langley creates a home for end of life

Local and provincial dignitaries came to the official opening, among them members of the MacDonald family – for whom the facility is named.

“It started small,” said Dean MacDonald, of his family’s support for hospice.

Dean’s mother Fran was in hospice care at the end of her life in 2008.

The building was old, it was July, and the air conditioning was not exactly up to snuff. The MacDonalds, including Dean’s brothers, sister, and father, wanted to help upgrade the system to help others who would need hospice care.

From there, they started a relationship with hospice society that led them to agreeing to be the lead sponsors of the new building.

READ MORE: New Langley hospice takes shape

“They were very big on giving back,” Dean said of his parents.

His father is still here, but while he’s fond of contributing to the community, he’s not big on the limelight.

Doug MacDonald did want it known that the family’s gift to hospice is in honour of the staff and volunteers there, and all the work they do, Dean said.

Also present at the opening were the leadership of the Kwantlen First Nation.

Michael Kelly, the son of Chief Marilyn Gabriel, pointed to the importance of the building.

“This dream will outlive you, will outlive maybe even your grandchildren, and that’s something to be proud of,” he said.

“Their final wish is always to be at home,” Chief Gabriel said of elders in their final days.

That’s why creating this home-like environment where people can be with their families is so important, she said.

Health Minister Adrian Dix offered remarks and thanks to Derksen, remembering a few years ago when they marked the beginning of construction at the site in front of a big mound of dirt.

“These places, these centres mean so much to people,” he said.

He gave a particular nod to the $4 million raised by the hospice society towards the project.

“This space represents the best of our communities,” said Dix.


Have a story tip? Email: matthew.claxton@langleyadvancetimes.com

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Langley Hospice Society’s Shannon Todd Booth (left) showed features of the new hospice’s spa room to Township Councillor Petrina Arnason and City Mayor Val van den Broek. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Langley Hospice Society’s Shannon Todd Booth (left) showed features of the new hospice’s spa room to Township Councillor Petrina Arnason and City Mayor Val van den Broek. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Kwantlen First Nation Chief Marilyn Gabriel spoke at the opening of the new hospice residence, offering a prayer with her husband and son. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Kwantlen First Nation Chief Marilyn Gabriel spoke at the opening of the new hospice residence, offering a prayer with her husband and son. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)