A Fitting Name for our Residential Hospice
Sakura (‘SAH-ku-ra’ or ‘sah-KUH-ra’), the Japanese word for cherry blossom, symbolizes an annual spring celebration of the shifting seasons. This powerful image evokes the bittersweet undercurrent of past seasons and the fleeting nature of human existence. The cherry blossom reminds us of the fragility and impermanence of life and seemed the perfect symbol for our hospice.
In 1983, one person decided that Woodstock (Oxford County) needed a volunteer hospice program. Almost 20 years later, in 2000 the seeds of planning began at VON Oxford for the dream of building what would one day be Sakura House. It began like many other programs VON Oxford manages, with the recognition of a need and the realization that we have the capacity, expertise and infrastructure to create and run this much needed facility.
A 12,000 square foot home, located just east of Woodstock, was generously donated in 2005 to VON Oxford by Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc. Standards, policies, protocols and best-practice guidelines for patient care were researched and completed with input from VON Canada, regional residential hospices, the Ontario College of Nurses, the Ontario Hospice Association, the Ontario College of Pharmacists as well as individual experts (plus other groups, associations and individuals).
It Takes a Community
Phase One of VON Oxford’s Capital Campaign began in 2007 and the goal was to renovate and equip the house, creating 10 patient rooms (the maximum allowed for a residential hospice in Ontario) with a private bath and deck, providing an unobstructed view outside from each bed and quiet comfortable spaces for family members. Thanks to the generous support of so many committee members, event planners, volunteers and donors (both private and corporate), the fundraising campaign was off to a great start. Not only were we raising money…we were raising awareness. The community at large was learning about Sakura House. Events like ‘Hike for Hospice’ and ‘Chip in for Sakura House’ were now familiar and anticipated.
In winter 2008 reconstruction began to add space for 10 beautiful, private patient rooms. Sakura House opened its doors September 1, 2009 and accepted the first patient September 2nd. Since opening there have been many very special moments shared between patients and their families and friends as well as staff and volunteers. Birthdays, anniversaries and holidays have been celebrated. There have been midnight giggles while watching a movie in the media room and quiet times shared in the family room watching nature from the panoramic view. Life and love can happen easily here because of the confidence that skilled and compassionate care is provided 24/7.