Alberni Valley Hospice Society’s Ty Watson House, in Port Alberni.

Alberni marks a decade of Ty Watson House

End-of-life care celebrates 10 years of love, laughter and lives well-lived

A sunflower image shines over the Alberni Valley Hospice Society and Ty Watson House. Hospice’s international symbol – a flower that produces and sows many seeds – symbolizes the many dedicated and compassionate people who bring hope to residents and families.

In 1994, Port Alberni’s Ty Watson (1907-1994) bequeathed his home to the Alberni Clayoquot Continuing Care Society, wanting it to benefit his community. The Ty Watson Home Foundation was formed in 1995 and the house was offered to the Alberni Valley Hospice Society as the unique, four-bedroom, 24-hour palliative care facility.

Providing both extended and respite stays, the Ty Watson House Bed Program opened in 2008, and today continues Ty’s vision for a caring community. The gardens provide a beautiful place for relaxation, with many plants growing in memory of loved ones and sunflowers bloom through the “Sunflower Kids” school program.

“Ten years ago Ty Watson House formed a unique partnership with Island Health to jointly provide hospice palliative care for individuals and families living with a life-limiting illness at an advanced stage,” reflects executive director Theresa Maxmenko. “Our goal is to provide comfort and dignity for the person living with the illness as well as the best quality of life for this person and for the family. The house and program is exceptional because of the life-affirming beliefs and actions of volunteers, staff, donors and community members.

The Ty Watson House Bed Program:

  • Served 38 residents and families in 2017
  • Served 285+ residents and families in 10 years
  • Recorded 7,270 volunteer hours in 2017
  • Recorded 38,239 volunteer hours over 10 years

A caring, compassionate team: The caring team of Island Health employees, Hospice staff and volunteers brings so much to residents and families, offering as much support as they need, within a comfortable, loving environment.

While the Vancouver Island Health Authority provides nursing care, food, housekeeping, professional counselling and other needs come from the Alberni Valley Hospice Society. Volunteers further support residents and families, while donations of supplies make a huge difference to the budget. Handmade quilts and shawls keep clients both comforted and comfortable, while local sports teams, musicians and other groups entertain.

“Our generous community supports our fundraising efforts to keep the house running, and together, the community makes our house as special as it is!” Maxmenko says. “Comfort, compassion, strength and dignity fill the house with love and laughter.

The peculiarities, humour, laughter and camaraderie that develops among the Ty Watson House ‘family’ brings joy and the understanding that none of us is alone,” Maxmenko says. “We look forward to the next 10 years of supporting families in Port Alberni.”

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