Matthews House Hospice opens new Centre of Excellence

131 Wellington Street East, Alliston, on L9R 1G7

131 Wellington Street East, Alliston, on L9R 1G7

“For the community. By the community.”

Those are the words over the door of the new Matthews House Hospice at 131 Wellington St. E. in Alliston — perfectly describing the 2,508-square-metre Centre of Excellence that officially opened its doors earlier this month.The Centre of Excellence combines a 10-bed residential hospice, providing 24-7 end-of-life care and support — replacing the original six-bed hospice — with all of the wellness programs, grief counselling, art therapy and other services formerly available at Matthews House on Highway 89.
Programs and outreach — including palliative care, caregiver support, counselling, respite, and the new Sanctuary at Home program that brings hospice services into to the home — are provided free of charge to the community.
And that community, through its support and sponsorship, made it possible to build the facility in just more than a year, said Andrea Roylance, manager of gifts and gratitude. The sod-turning took place April 27, 2017, and the ribbon cutting on July 12 this year.
Response to Matthews House Hospice’s $6-million capital campaign ranged from individual donations, to the $750,000 gift from Honda Canada Foundation.
A big part of the effort was the sale of naming rights for everything from benches, flowers and a barbecue, to the large meeting rooms.
“Everybody wants to be involved,” Roylance said. “Even the covered porches are named.”
There is a plaque on nearly every door, bench and chair in memory or in honour of a loved one — a lasting legacy that ensures Matthews House Hospice can provide a warm, comfortable, caring space for those facing the end of life, and for their families.
From the wall of glass flowers designed by Kelly Lowe at the entrance to Matthews House, to the family lounges, meeting rooms, libraries and quiet rooms, everything is designed to be accessible, calming and comfortable.
Volunteer Cheryl Nuttal led a tour around the new facility, pointing out the Frank & Sally Taylor Library, with its cozy seating and bookcases, and the “Reflections Room — the first one in Canada,” where the grieving can sit and share their thoughts, writing them down with pen and paper, to be framed and displayed on the walls.
There are therapy rooms for reiki, massage and aromatherapy; learning centres for classes and community meetings; and Kathy’s Kitchen, named in honour of Kathy Black, where muffins are available at breakfast, and a crock pot of soup is always on the go at lunchtime.
It is a space not only for residents of Matthews House, but for their families — where quality of life is the most important thing.
Each residential suite is bright and cheerful, with a daybed for family members who want to stay close, and access to the outdoors. Palliative beds can be easily wheeled outside to enjoy the beautiful garden with its gazebo and flowers.
“Each room has been sponsored by someone... Someone generously donated a blanket warmer,” said Nuttal, who came to Matthews House 10 years ago after experiencing “just a year from hell” — a year of numbing loss and grief.
After speaking with volunteers and counsellors, she stayed to volunteer.
There are areas that are still “in the works,” including suites where out of town families will be able to stay on-site, and a theatre room.
It is “a work in progress,” said Nuttal, but it’s coming together quickly.
At present, four of the 10 beds are occupied.
“In a year, it’s amazing what can happen,” said Roylance, noting that there is “momentum,” as people become more aware of Matthews House Hospice. She said she expects the hospice to be full within a short period of time.
“It’s educating people on what hospice is,” Roylance said. “It’s starting the conversation. I’m really thrilled with the awareness that’s happening” — especially in Bradford West Gwillimbury, which is in the Matthews House service area.

The capital campaign still has a little way to go before it wraps up, and there a few “naming rights” still available, but the focus is already beginning to shift to “sustainability,” she said.
It costs approximately $2.2 million per year to operate the Matthews House Hospice Centre of Excellence. The government of Ontario has committed just more than $1 million annually to help cover medical and nursing costs, which means “we need to raise $1.2 million every year,” said Roylance.
Right now, much of that is being raised through special events. The Hike for Hospice in May raised a whopping $111,000.
“Our gala (Sept. 28) needs to raise $300,000. Our golf tourney (Sept. 12), $50,000,” Roylance said.
But even more “awesome” would be for the community to embrace “sustainability and monthly giving,” she said.
A monthly donation of $50, $30, even $20 would provide an economic foundation for Matthews House.

In the meantime, work continues to ensure that the Centre of Excellence provides a warm, caring environment for those at the end of life, their families and caregivers, and the community at large. For the community. By the community.

For more information on Matthews House Hospice, and options for giving visit or call 705-435-7218.

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