The new local hospice residence is under construction and expected to be done next summer. (B.C. Ministry of Health graphic)

Construction underway on Langley’s new hospice residence

The new 15-bed facility is slated for completion in summer 2021

A patient in the hospice residence in Langley had a simple wish – to go outside for a bit.

So staff struggled to get the patient’s bed out the doors of the squat 60-year-old building near Langley Memorial Hospital.

The desire for the staff and the Langley Hospice Society, which supports local hospice care, to be able to fulfill the wishes of patients helped drive the design of the new 15-bed hospice facility currently being constructed on 52nd Avenue at 219A Street.

“We decided we wanted every patient room to have patio access to the outdoors,” said society president Kathy Derksen.

She was joined by Fraser Health CEO Dr. Victoria Lee and B.C. Health Minister to announce that construction is underway on the new facility that provides a home-like setting for people at the end of their lives.

“We are so grateful for the incredible support we have received from our community, donors and funding partners to help make this new 15-bed hospice residence a reality for our community,” Derksen said. “The end-of-life journey is not just about dying. It’s about living well, right to the end.”

The residence will have space for patients and their families, including private rooms for patients, a dedicated sanctuary, and family kitchen, laundry and washroom.

Each year the 10-bed facility provides care for about 238 patients. The new facility is expected to allow for the care of about 350 people per year, Dix noted.

“With a growing and aging population there’s a growing need,” he said.

The new hospice residence will have about 14.8 full-time equivalent positions with Fraser Health providing the medical/clinical care and the hospice society providing the support services and running the residence. Some of the services provided at its program centre on 48th Avenue may move over to the residence.

Dix said the Fraser Health/Langley Hospice Society division of labour “will be a model” for other communities. There are a variety of arrangements between local health authorities and the hospice groups in various communities.

The total budget is $8.5 million for the new Langley residence. The building will cost $7.38 million with the remainder for equipment and furnishings. The province, through Fraser Health and BC Housing, is providing $5 million while the hospice society has been fundraising its portion of $2.28 million. There’s also a $900,000 grant from the BC Centre for Palliative Care and the Township has waived municipal charges totalling $219,00.

The society has raised the bulk of its contribution but continues to fundraise to help outfit and furnish the facility, according to hospice society executive director Carissa Halley.

She added that the new, bigger residence will mean the society will do some navel gazing on how to move into the future. More patients in the hospice residence, for instance, could mean more demand for support services such as grief counselling for families.

“It’s going to be an opportunity for growth for us,” she commented. “With the new residence, it’s a chance to look and evaluate.”

Langley is seeing significant growth and change in the local health care amenities. Dix noted the hospice project comes at the same time as the Langley Memorial Hospital ER expansion due to be complete in 2021 and the construction of the new MRI suite which is due to be complete in 2021 but could start providing some services in December 2020. The 10-bed hospice residence will be used for long-term care once the new facility is open next summer.

Dix said the global pandemic may have had minor impacts on the new facility, such as delaying Friday’s construction announcement but the project is “full steam ahead.”

Derksen said the design, with individual patient rooms, access from patient rooms to the outdoors, and other features will actually help with COVID-19 safety and protocols. If there has to be lockdowns in the future, families can still visit loved ones, just maybe not be in the same room, for instance.

“Families may be able to come up to the hospice and… sit outside,” she explained. “Their loved ones could be wheeled right up to the windows.”

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Health Minister Adrian Dix, Kathy Derksen, with the Langley Hospice Society, and Fraser Health CEO Dr. Victoria Lee announced the start of construction of the new 15-bed hospice residence in Murrayville n Friday, Aug. 8. (Hospice Society/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Kathy Derksen is president of the Langley Hospice Society which has been providing end of life care for more than 30 years. (Hospice Society/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Health Minister Adrian Dix, Kathy Derksen, with the Langley Hospice Society, and Fraser Health CEO Dr. Victoria Lee announced the start of construction of the new 15-bed hospice residence in Murrayville n Friday, Aug. 8. (Hospice Society/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

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