A healing garden proposed for Columbia House

Society planning garden on southeast corner of retirement home

There is a non-profit organization in town that has an altruistic purpose, that being, to change the lives of those in the care of Columbia House and their loved ones. The Columbia House Enhancement Society (CHES) was born through the Columbia House Family Council. The council consists of residential family members, Columbia House and Interior Health staff, alumni and other interested parties.

The main objective of the society is to help secure funds to support programs to ensure that residents and their families enjoy a higher quality of living while in care.

Currently, the society is in the midst of creating a comprehensive plan to establish a healing garden. The garden will be available to Invermere & District Hospital visitors and patients, Columbia Gardens, and the community.

“We’re going to build a healing garden on the southeast corner of Columbia House. It will have wheel-chair accessibility and people who are visiting the hospital can go there. It’s going to be a really nice spot,” said CHES Member John Newton.

According to Mr. Newton, the garden is well on its way thanks to a large sum of money that was bequeathed to them. But the project is still in need of a green light to go ahead with construction.

“Right now we’re doing the planning stage … and then we’ll start fundraising. We’ve got Hybrid Landscaping helping us out and we’re grateful for the support we’ve got so far and we’re excited about the project,” said Mr. Newton. “If people want to donate money, we’ll take it, and we want to get the plan together first so that people know what they’re getting into.”

The garden will also act as a beautification project while ensuring that residents have the opportunity to gaze at the mountains and enjoy some fresh air, a component that is essential to promote healing and recovery, according to CHES Board Member Nora Efford.

Ms. Efford’s mother was a resident coping with Alzheimers at Columbia House for over six years and she recalls that a healing garden would have improved the wellbeing of everyone involved by combatting the clinical atmosphere.

“I went in most days to help her with one of her meals and it’s very difficult to go in everyday with someone who can’t communicate with you —it’s very difficult for the patients because things don’t change, the air quality is the same, you sit in the same spot at the same time inside the building. The staff is absolutely wonderful; they do everything they can to make it interesting and changing but there’s still those factors that don’t change,” said Ms. Efford.

Fundraising will be a key element to seeing the plans come to fruition.

“We’re at the point where we’re ready to present the plans to Interior Health because they’re the ones that have to give us the go ahead,” she said.

If all goes well construction will begin in the spring with a call for volunteers who will be needed to accompany residents outside.

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