Southeastern N.B. residential hospice adds 'serenity garden' to mark first year

·2 min read
A serenity garden has been added to the Maison Albert House residential hospice in Moncton.  (Pierre Fournier/CBC News - image credit)
A serenity garden has been added to the Maison Albert House residential hospice in Moncton. (Pierre Fournier/CBC News - image credit)

Frances LeBlanc looks around the comforting, soft-hued Maison Albert House in Moncton.

The doors of the first residential hospice in southeastern New Brunswick officially opened a year ago.

"It feels incredible to have reached that milestone after a year of wonderful ups and some learnings, and we're definitely in evolution," said LeBlanc, the executive director of Hospice SENB.

The 10-bed hospice, which serves Albert, Kent and Westmorland counties, has cared for more than 100 clients in its first year.

The hospice works closely with family members, even sitting down with kitchen staff to see if a favourite recipe can be duplicated.

Kate Letterick/CBC News
Kate Letterick/CBC News

The idea is to bring comfort at all levels, not just in terms of pain management, but emotionally and spiritually.

"We call it the "palliative hug" that the team really comes and surrounds them and supports them so the satisfaction has been incredibly positive from the families, the caregivers and the communities as well," LeBlanc said.

Now the hospice is markings its first anniversary with an addition.

A "serenity garden," including a fountain and stonework, has just opened, thanks to fundraising efforts by Moncton couple Gary and Trudy Steeves.

"Trudy was in the hospital in Florida, and that's where I saw a serenity garden at that hospital and came back with that idea," Gary said.

"Just to go out and sit there even while she was in the hospital, it was a peaceful place, quiet and time to reflect."

WATCH | See the flowers and fountain that give hospice residents and families a place of calm

The Steeves's have so far raised $37,000 in honour of their longtime friend Paul Whitmee, and the fundraising continues.

Trudy Steeves hopes the garden will bring comfort to the residents and their loved ones.

"I think people who have left their home situation and are here want to feel like they have some sense of normalcy and looking out a window at a garden, maybe reminding them of one they had in their own yard one time," she said.

"Give them some peace and some comfort."

Kate Letterick/CBC News
Kate Letterick/CBC News

The Steeves hope to see the garden flourish over the years.

Meanwhile, the hospice continues to grow and change, as it serves more people. Clients have stayed for up to three months, but the average stay is about 21 days.

Frances LeBlanc said the goal is to learn from the people who use hospice care so the services can continue to improve.

"Programming is going to evolve through the years, as well as our facility, so obviously our garden is going to grow as much as our programs are," LeBlanc said.

"So in the next year we're really looking to strengthen the community offerings that we give and make sure that we are fully integrated in the communities that we serve."