When you wake up after a deep sleep, you don't expect to see a stranger in the next bed but that can happen at Hawthorne Seniors Care Community, where many of the frail elderly share semi-private rooms.
"It was heartbreaking and it was a challenge," says CEO Lenore Pickering of the experience of new residents at the 44-year-old Port Coquitlam facility.
Although Hawthorne has been providing elder care in Tri-Cities, and a leader in providing state-of-the-art services, with its innovative dementia cottages in 2005 and community style amenities, the inability to provide private rooms because of the building's original "medical model" design has been a sore spot.
That is about to change, said Pickering, who said construction has already begun on a $4.2-million renovation that will convert 19 semi-private rooms to private rooms while also adding more lounges and upgrading the decor to create distinct "neighbourhoods" and a more home-like atmosphere for residents.
Last Thursday, a public campaign was launched to come up with $1 million toward the project and the good news is more than half has already been been raised by supporters — and even Hawthorne staff.
PoCo Mayor Greg Moore, whose mother lives at Hawthorne, revealed that the first and largest donation of the $568,264 collected so far for the renovation came from the Hawthorne team at $110,000.
"We want to start at home," said Moore, who is the campaign chair.
The PoCo Senior Citizen Housing Society, the organization behind Hawthorne, believed the renovation to be so important that it loaned $1 million from its emergency reserve to get it started. But that loan must be paid back, which is the reason for the public campaign.
Also helping with the project is Fraser Health, which will help offset the interest on the $3.2-million mortgage cost, and BC Housing, which will provide interim construction financing and assist in getting a competitive mortgage rate.
According to project documents, the construction will add nearly 11,000 sq. ft. of space, convert 19 semi-private rooms into 38 private rooms, include three new bathing rooms, lounges, courtyards and medicine cabinets in residents' rooms. As well, additions will include two nursing stations, a music therapy studio, a resident kitchen/activity room, offices and a storage room. The current dining area will also be redesigned and enlarged.
• For more information and to donate, visit hawthornecare.com.