Since 2003, we have grown and developed in amazing ways thanks to our great community.
Since launching programs in 2003 and offering our first 4 residential beds in 2013, the history of Matthews House is already worth exploring. The story of founders Frank and Sally Taylor is encouraging and inspiring. Other founding members include Marion Carlton, Eleanor Watt, Marise Osborne, Marion McGregor, and Marise Puller. We are so grateful to our local community for supporting us through the years.
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.
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 to Sally in 1997.
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 started in a volunteer’s home in Barrie.
We realized 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 my 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.
Matthews House is purchased with a little help from the Matthews Family; new programs are launched.
The first member of staff, a part-time manager, is employed. Healing Garden takes shape in Matthews House back yard. Word about Matthews House spreads and programs are added.
Wellspring chooses Matthews House as one of four pilot sites in Ontario. Transition to independence from Hospice Simcoe begins.
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.
With independence comes the need for more office space. We did not want to lose the homey look of our house. The garage was converted to offices with the help of Devonleigh Homes, Home Hardware and a lot of volunteer help.
A piece of property in Alliston is donated for the future building of a Centre of Excellence.
Original garden plan is complete. The garden is amazing.
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! Plans to open 4 beds begin.
4 beds are opened for residential clients.
Hospice Palliative Care Ontario (HPCO) advocates for an increase in government funding for currently-operating residential hospices. Matthews House is recommended to receive funding as well as 2 other rural hospices.
Matthews House is recognized as "the hub" in South Simcoe and develops a new strategic plan in consultation with community partners and stakeholders. Plans to build a Centre of Excellence at the Wellington Street address are endorsed.
Government of Ontario announces plan to provide $75 million over the next 3 years for hospice and palliative care services in Ontario, and commits $105 000 per-bed annually to Matthews House. This represents a commitment for permanent, ongoing, operating funding through the Ontario Provincial Government.
Plans are announced to build a 10-bedroom residential hospice to meet the current and future needs of the Alliston and Simcoe County community.