Langley Hospice Society board president Kathy Derksen (left) and Shannon Todd Booth, communications and fund development manager stand outside the new Langley hospice building. (Photo: Ursula Maxwell-Lewis)

Langley Hospice Society board president Kathy Derksen (left) and Shannon Todd Booth, communications and fund development manager stand outside the new Langley hospice building. (Photo: Ursula Maxwell-Lewis)

COLUMN: Caring and understanding at new hospice in Langley

‘Death is rarely a comfortable subject to discuss’

Touring the soon-to-be opened 15-bed Langley Hospice Residence generates a mixture of emotions.

Death is rarely a comfortable subject to discuss, but the tour prompted me to delve a little further into how to face the inevitable with both Langley and Surrey Hospice staff professionals. As I walk through, I chat with Langley Hospice Society president Kathy Derksen and Shannon Todd Booth, LHS Communications and Funds Development Manager.

Derksen, the society president for over a decade, has been a devoted Langley Hospice Society volunteer for over 30 years.

“It has always been our dream (goal) to build a free-standing hospice for our Langley Community. I know that hospice care and talking about hospice may not be a comfortable conversation for some folks, however, letting people know, in our own quiet way, about all of the support services hospice has to offer is our way of also letting people know that support and compassionate care for them will always be available whenever they want or need to reach out for it.”

Although reticent about her own major part in this project, she proudly applauds the Society. “Not only did Langley Hospice Society build the new residence, we raised all of the funds to build it as well – not an easy task for a small non-profit group, especially when we were still needed to raise the ongoing funds for our Supportive Care and Program Services Centre. Add COVID to the mix, soaring prices for lumber and building supplies, supply chain issues etc.etc. – well you can get the picture!”

Derksen says, “It has been so amazing to watch a dream become reality and to have the privilege of being involved.”

Although now a staff member Shannon Todd Booth recalls a time when – as a mom with two young children – she didn’t know what hospice was. After having to confront the inevitable with her mother and grandmother she tells me, “Once I discovered it, I knew there was a reason to be involved.”

As we toured the facility – even with carpentry and cartons still in evidence – details mattered. Light, bright, welcoming. All attempts to make residents and visiting families feel welcome, comfortable, as relaxed as possible, and at home were apparent right from the moment we entered. Facilities for residents and visitors – such as kitchen, laundry and gathering areas inside and out – invite people to relax. Stress and sadness are expected and understood, but optimism and an emphasis on life is also considered.

Fraser Health professionals on site, as well as trained Society volunteers, will ensure the wellbeing of all concerned.

Todd Booth explains how community support is what brought the Society to life. Twenty packs of playing cards were gratefully received recently, magazines for children and teens are needed, as are toilet rolls for crafts. “Donations of art work and many other items impact patient care,” Todd Booth reminds me. “We’re good at making every penny count!” The Society also welcomes ‘In Honour Of’ bequests, grants, and B.C. Gaming funds.

The LHS also has a house at 20660-48th Ave., where its offices, a few client rooms and training facilities are located. Second Story Treasures, 8948-202 St. Langley, their well known thrift shop is the main ongoing fundraiser. Volunteers are welcomed here, too.

Ursula Maxwell-Lewis is the founding publisher and managing editor of the Cloverdale Reporter. Contact her at utravel@shaw.ca.



editor@cloverdalereporter.com

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