Langley Lodge is celebrating 40 years. In 1974 Langley Lodge opened its doors to the elderly in the community and filled a vital need. Today, it still does. In 1971 Langley was growing and Stewart Chapman, the administrator at Langley Memorial Hospital had a real problem. He was under pressure to free up acute care beds being occupied by long term care patients. Turning to the community for help he called a meeting to find a solution.
One of the community groups invited to the table was the local Rotary club. Roy Brown, a local businessman was the newly elected president. He had meant to assign a Rotarian to go to the meeting but forgot and instead, he went himself. Before the meeting was over he had agreed to do a feasibility study. One of his first steps was to interview seniors to determine what they wanted in a care facility. He learned that first and foremost they wanted to live in town, not 'out in the boondocks'.
Seen above is L. Nicholas in 1973
Brown spearheaded the project to build Langley Lodge and though he was the catalyst, he stressed that this was a community initiative. "The project, to be successful required that the whole community embrace it. Churches, service clubs, the Royal Canadian Legion, seniors organizations and interested individuals needed to be involved; there would be no ivory towers," said Brown. The Langley Special Care Homes Society, now known as the Langley Care Society, received its charter in 1971. Three short years later, Langley Lodge opened its doors to its first residents.
In 1974 it cost $10.00 a day or $300.00 per month to live at Langley Lodge. Some of the people who wanted to move in couldn't afford it. This was because some of the potential residents were widows on fixed incomes. Some had Old Age Pensions but because they had been housewives all their lives, they were ineligible to receive Canada Pension Plan benefits. So the Langley Special Care Homes Society approached the health minister of the day to seek assistance. They were turned down. However four months later, when government officials saw the beneficial effect Langley Lodge was having on the hospital bed shortage, they relented and began to subsidize the people who needed it most.
In 2006 the Fraser Health Authority upgraded its dual room occupancy standard to single room occupancy. If Langley Lodge was going to continue operating they would have to meet these new requirements for single room occupancy. The Board of Directors, after much consultation, agreed that the Langley Care Society would undertake a construction and renovation project that would see a new West Tower built and a massive renovation to the existing building. Langley Lodge’s multi-million dollar renovation was completed in 2011. The brand new facility is state of the art. “Some of the rooms were very crowded with equipment and some even had four people in them with only one bathroom. This is so much better!” says long term staff nurse Mary Maton.
Seen above is Langley Lodge in 2008 (Pre-Renovation)
The land that Langley Lodge sits on was originally owned by the Timms family who operated Timm’s Market Gardens, later known as Langley Greenhouses, for almost 60 years. The Langley flower business was one of the largest in North America; in 1939, the company was commissioned to provide the bouquet of orchids to Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother upon her visit to Vancouver. This fact is well documented in Warren Sommer’s book, “From Prairie to City, A History of the City of Langley”, and it is an interesting piece of local history for the residents of Langley Lodge, many of whom are native residents of the Langley area.
One of the ways the Langley Care Society raises funds is through the efforts of the Langley Care Foundation, committed community volunteers and the Langley Care Society Auxiliary. There are fundraising projects large and small. The ideas generated by dedicated volunteers and supported by the Director of Fundraising Patrick Matiowski range from butterfly releases to ritzy galas.
The members of the LCS Auxiliary are busy too. They fundraise by organizing twice monthly New2 U sales, special events and jewelry and book sales. The proceeds are used to enhance the lives of the residents. For example at Christmas time members of the Auxiliary buy and wrap gifts for all 139 residents and they also decorate the Lodge for the holidays.
Langley Lodge was primarily built to provide Personal and Intermediate care, but today it provides Complex care. In 2012, Langley Lodge was awarded Accreditation with Exemplary Standing by Accreditation Canada. This means the organization was assessed by an external peer review process and has fully met all national standards of excellence.
Adults generally move into Langley Lodge from their family home, assisted living or occasionally, directly from hospital. Family members are encouraged to visit anytime, day or night. It is therefore common to have family members in the Lodge for meals, activities, and sometimes late at night. One family member often spends time with her mother late into the evening, because it is quiet then and it helps her mother to settle for the night. "This is exactly what we’d do if our mother was in her own home. Privacy and freedom to make decisions are also ways residents are respectfully afforded a ‘homelike’ environment”, said Debra.
Some residents who live on the second floor have age related dementia and Alzheimer's Disease. They can no longer live with their spouses and families but still enjoy their visits. An example is Ed and his wife Georgia. Ed lives at home while Georgia lives at Langley Lodge. One day Ed was on his way into the Lodge. Patrick stopped him to ask how his day was going. Ed replied "It's a beautiful day, the sun is shining and I'm coming to visit the love of my life. So how could today get any better?" Because Georgia is relatively new to Langley Lodge Patrick asked, how is your wife doing? "She's well looked after and the staff love her, so I'm 99% pleased," said Ed. Intrigued, Patrick asked what would make it 100%? "If she could be home with me," replied Ed. "But I know she's happy here, and that's the main thing."
MLA Peter Fassbender is the honorary chair of the Langley Care Foundation and the Langley Lodge holds a special place in his heart. Following a stroke his mother was a resident here for four and a half years. He describes her care as fantastic. "Though she could hardly speak, she took great joy in being a part of the hand chime choir. Everyone was so good to her and it truly was her home; Langley Lodge is not an institution," he said "but a home with institutional care."
Langley Lodge has a large recreation department coordinated by staff and supported by a small army of volunteers. There are bus trips and outings but many of the activities are held in-house. There's a music therapy program and many of the residents are part of a hand chime choir. A Horticulture program is offered to residents who enjoy gardening. Their efforts provide the courtyard with beautiful flowers and edible gardens. The chef uses many of the herbs to create delicious dishes for everyone to enjoy. Once they are here residents have access to a whole range of programs designed for their interests. They are also introduced to some activities they may not have tried before.
With 139 residents, it could be a daunting task to find a good fit for each person but with the numerous programs there's something for everyone.
Keeping physically fit is important but so is mental fitness. There's a weekly philosophers café to keep people engaged and talking about current issues. Though a non-denominational Seniors Care Residence, Langley Lodge welcomes local churches. Church volunteers and Pastors provide Pastoral Care and organize regular church services as well as special events.
Langley Lodge is close to Langley City Hall, the library and two beautiful parks, Douglas Park and Portage Park. The Lodge is close to shopping, doctor's offices, and a medical laboratory. It's centrally located so there is a full range of transit services for visitors and staff alike.
The population is aging and the need for long term complex care is on the rise. Like the original board the current one remains guided by the same vision of providing excellent care for the elderly and frail. Terry Metcalfe, President of the Langley Care Society said, "We have a state of the art facility and we are staying on the path started by our predecessors. We are reaching out to the frail and the elderly who are based in Langley. We'd like to offer some services to the elders around us who aren't residents but have needs that perhaps we could meet." Debra Hauptman agrees. "The demand for care is growing," she said. "The senior's population is exploding and by 2036, seven percent of the population will be over 80. Because of the vision of the Langley Care Society Directors and community support, Langley Lodge is well positioned to serve our community well into the future." she said.
As a testament to their efforts, Keith McBain, Executive Director of the Fraser Health's Residential Care, Assisted Living and Specialized Populations said "The Langley Care Society is the epitome of what non-profit societies should be."
Present Day Langley Lodge
At 40, Langley Lodge is young for her years and will continue to play a significant role in providing care long into the future. Happy birthday Langley Lodge.
Lilianne Fuller, Freelance Writer
Doris Riedwig, Author
Warren Sommer, Author
Debra Hauptman, CEO (editor)