Monday, September 25, 2023
September 25, 2023

Greenwoods refreshes for 2023

Anyone walking into the Greenwoods Eldercare residence for the first time in a few years might be surprised by what they see. 

They would notice brightly painted residence hallways — named Willow Lane and Fern Lane — with new hand rails in place, and that each resident’s door has a different colourful look and identity. 

A former boardroom has been transformed into a staff room with a view of the ocean out one window. The previous staff room has become a family lounge.

Aletha Humphreys has been the executive director of Greenwoods Eldercare Society for almost five years, and along with the society’s board and dedicated staff steered the facility through the pandemic period, which led to some of the recent changes. 

For example, fundraising for another bus had been in the works, Humphreys said, but it struck everyone during the pandemic that some people don’t actually ever leave the facility. 

“So we thought, ‘let’s make their home environment as home-like as possible.’” 

That led to the hallway refurbishment project, which cost $150,000. 

“All of that money came from the [Greenwoods] Foundation, which would have represented years of giving from the community,” said Humphreys.

Before making the changes, Greenwoods reached out to the Department of Gerontology at Simon Fraser University. That led to being introduced to a decal product that gives the door to each resident’s room a unique look. Each door was also painted a different colour. 

Greenwoods is also working with SFU to determine what sort of artwork or interactive displays could go on the newly painted white walls. 

“[Some things] might look pretty to us but could be overwhelming to someone with dementia,” said Humphreys. 

The family lounge addition was a suggestion from a Greenwoods resident’s son, who observed that visiting people in their bedrooms seemed strange, so having a separate gathering area made more sense. The resulting spacious room has a round dining table and four chairs, two living room chairs and a love seat, and an area to make tea and prepare snacks. A door also opens up to the garden area. 

A generous donation from someone who had a connection with Greenwoods but wants to remain anonymous for now made that change possible. The room will be dedicated to a former Greenwoods board member. 

“We are waiting to do the full opening of this room once we are through respiratory [illness] season,” said Humphreys. “Then we will have a celebratory tea with the person it was dedicated to and invite the families.” 

Greenwoods family members have traditionally been asked for input on an informal basis, but a new family council system brought in by the B.C. government last year will see that change too. Humphreys is grateful that two people stepped up to be co-chairs of the council.

Another major change has occurred in the governance realm. Greenwoods Eldercare Society has been supported by the Greenwoods Foundation since 2002. That entity existed to raise funds for the Greenwoods and Braehaven residences, but the boards of both groups made the decision last year to dissolve the foundation and bring the fundraising aspect back under the society. 

Volunteer capacity was a major factor. 

“We are incredibly fortunate to have an extremely competent board,” said Humphreys. “But we’re struggling to get our volunteers back. We realized it’s wonderful to do a garden bench raffle and it’s wonderful to do an annual campaign, but it doesn’t raise enough.” 

The Greenwoods building is 43 years old and will require significant investment in coming years, she said. 

“I don’t want the plumbing to crash, I want to look at replacing the plumbing . . . We need to keep this building viable and then we can put our efforts towards a new build, which is so desperately needed here.” 

Greenwoods owns an adjacent lot where another facility could be built.  

Humphreys refers to the plumbing because of a failure in a pipe in the kitchen that occurred on Feb. 23. 

She said the contractors dealing with the issue — Miller Plumbing, Fiberlock and Nick Pringle — “were incredible” and the repairs were completed in the shortest possible time — three weeks. 

“Thank goodness we have Braehaven [assisted living facility next door],” she said. “The team had to put all the dishes onto carts and wash and sanitize them at Braehaven and bring them back.”

But of course that wasn’t the only challenge to overcome. 

“Over those three weeks we had snow, so [Greenwoods operations manager Trish Staicesku and her husband Greg] were shovelling a path between the two places.” 

Then, as soon as they plugged in the dishwasher after the three-week hiatus, it broke. A required part was ordered and was supposed to be on the first ferry the next day. But then the morning Crofton-Vesuvius ferries were cancelled. But Irene Lundy, Greenwoods’ support services supervisor and main maintenance person convinced the courier to take the part down to the ferry dock. It was given to a friend of Lundy’s on the ferry and the dishwasher was working by 6 p.m. that night. 

Another reason to fold the Greenwoods Foundation into the society was to eliminate confusion about the two organizations. 

Humphreys said the society also wants to build community engagement and emphasize to people that “we are not part of the Lady Minto Hospital Foundation” and so anyone wanting to support Greenwoods should donate directly to Greenwoods Eldercare Society. While donations are appreciated at any time to help with costs such as the plumbing and rehabilitation repair, a giving campaign is planned for June 5-11 this year during Seniors’ Week. 

Like all health-care institutions, Greenwoods still has staffing challenges and some rooms are without residents as a result. 

“We have been at 43 to 45 [residents]when we should be 50 plus respite.” 

The Health Care Access Program, which provides financial support to people wanting to train to become health-care aides, has been helpful, Humphreys said, and other roles are being filled. 

“It will take us a few years to build up core staff again and not having to be relying on agency staff,” she said. 

For more info about Greenwoods or to donate, visit the website or email Humphreys at


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