By Sally Taylor
Community Hospices began in Ontario in the 1980’s. Hospice Simcoe was begun in Barrie in 1988 by a dedicated group of volunteers around the kitchen table of newly retired Home Care coordinator, Jane Fitzgerald.
Hospice Simcoe was one of the first 9 hospices in Ontario who quickly got together to start the Hospice Association of Ontario to coordinate their efforts. Hospice Simcoe included South Simcoe and serviced our area.
1995 ~As the service grew a training program was held in Stevenson Memorial Hospital that included present volunteers Joyce Maltby and newly retired Director of Nurses, Marion Carlton. Marion became Service Coordinator (Volunteer), assessing new clients in their last months of life and assigning one of the 12 in home volunteers. She passed that duty to me in 1997.
2001 ~ Hospices began to realize that they needed to help clients sooner to give them more information, help them access services sooner and get peer support. Circle of Friends support group starts in a volunteer’s home in Barrie.
2002 ~ We realize we could do this in Alliston too, so our clients would not have to travel to Barrie. A number of us took the facilitators course and started a Circle of Friends in our living room. Hospice Simcoe started plans to build a day hospice in Barrie. In the meantime Frank and I had cared for my mother, Ruth MacCarl in our home for 9 months. She died in April 2002 leaving us some money that we suddenly realized could buy a home to be a Day Hospice in South Simcoe.
2002~ 2003 ~ Volunteers launch search for a house in South Simcoe.
Founding Volunteers: Front row L-R: Marise Osborne, Marion McGregor. Back Row L-R: Sally Taylor, Eleanor Watt, Maureen Puller, Marion Carlton.
2004 ~ Matthews House is purchased with a little help from the Matthews Family; new programs are launched.
2005 ~ Healing Garden takes shape in Matthews House back yard.
2007 ~ Wellspring chooses Matthews House as one of four pilot sites in Ontario; At Hospice Simcoe’s request transition to independence begins.
2008 ~ Transition to an independent hospice is complete; Trillium foundation approves 3-year grant; Wellspring and Matthews House commence joint programming; we “celebrate a dream” with our Board of Directors, staff, volunteers, clients, donors, and local dignitaries.
2009 ~ With independence comes the need for more office space. We did not want to lose the homey look of our house. The garage is converted to offices with the help of Devonleigh Homes, Home Hardware and a lot of volunteer help.
2011 ~ Original garden plan is complete. The garden is amazing.
2012 ~ Federal grant for accessibility renovations is received to make bathrooms accessible, widen doorways, change flooring and add a bathroom downstairs. A feasibility study is launched to determine if our area needs residential hospice beds. The answer is yes.