Holy Family Home

July 31, 2015

“To serve is to love”

The health and well-being of our elderly population is an issue that touches us all. With the ‘silver tsunami’ of aging baby boomers on its way, the need for outstanding home-away-from-home facilities is reaching a critical stage.

Holy Family Home in Winnipeg, Manitoba is one of those exceptional places; providing loving, faith-based care in an atmosphere where everyone is treated as family. Like many non-profit residences for the elderly, the Home receives government funding for day-to-day operations. But the similarities end there. Holy Family has a unique history and cultural vision that makes their Home a true Godsend for the community.

In the Beginning

Holy Family Home was established in 1957 by the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, a Ukrainian Catholic religious order founded 120 years ago in the Ukraine by Sister Josephata Hordashevska – “Blessed Josephata”. The Sisters have a world-wide presence in various ministries, including health care, long term care, and education. They believe they are here “to care for their people” – primarily, but not exclusively, the Ukrainian population.

Jean Piché, Current CEO of Holy Family Home, explains: “There was an influx of Ukraine and Slavic folks who immigrated to Manitoba in the early 20th century. By the 1950s, many had reached an age where they required 24 hour support and supervision. The Sisters, having served in Winnipeg since 1903, had grown with the community and recognized the need to establish a care facility for these people. In 1957, they purchased what was then the old children’s hospital and converted it to a long term care facility. As time went on, we added an additional building and beds, and now have a 276-bed Personal Care Home.”

The Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate are integrally involved as the owners of Holy Family Home. They appoint the board; some serve as directors; some are even employees – largely in spiritual care, but also in administration. Their motto, “To Serve is to Love,” is also their philosophy. Providing loving care and service to all who cross their paths. Piché says, “That has become our motto at Holy Family as well. It is imbedded in our value statements and our mission as an organization.”

Traditionally speaking, Holy Family is a nursing home. Specifically, a residence for the elderly, many of whom are infirm and incapable of living independently. In Manitoba, it is called a Personal Care Home or Long Term Care Facility (LTC). Contrasted with “Assisted Living” (seniors who can live independently but may require support i.e. light housekeeping, meals, etc.) and Supported Housing (cannot live on their own, but are able to manage to some extent; not dependent enough for LTC).

Persons seeking placement in a Personal Care Home must be assessed by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) to qualify for admission. Typically, that means they would require 24-hour support and supervision, nursing care, and medical care. Individuals have the right to identify their preferred facility, anywhere in the province. If that choice has no vacant rooms, they may have to accept an interim placement while awaiting permanent residence in the requested location.

Feeling Right at Home

“We do have a waiting list,” Piché admits. “Since we are the only Ukrainian Catholic Personal Care Home in the city of Winnipeg, many Ukrainians identify Holy Family as their preferred facility. When an elderly person experiences the early stages of dementia, Alzheimer’s or another illness, it becomes increasingly important to be in an environment where they feel at home. Holy Family achieves that through cultural programming, recreational programs, religious services, food, language… all those things give meaning and identity to people as they age.”

The fact that Baby Boomers will reach the age of 85 by 2031 has become a system-wide problem. Holy Family Home has long recognized the need to plan for the future. In fact, it is looking at a major expansion project, now in the final stages of design.

“The Class A cost estimate was just submitted to the Manitoba government, who will provide 90% of the capital funding,” says Piché. “This $70 million project will allow us to build 157 new resident rooms, and includes a ’10-bed special needs unit’ for people with challenging behaviors. The building is expected to be fully operational by the spring of 2018.

Holy Family Home Facts & Figures


* 400 full-time, part-time and casual employees.

* approx. 100 volunteers devoting 15,000 unpaid hours per year.

* full medical team

* consulting geriatric psychiatrist.

Operating Expenses

Provincial government and WRHA provide 65 percen of operational funding. 35 percent comes from resident per diems. Residents pay on a sliding scale of $36 to $78/day, as determined by their last income tax return.

Total yearly budget is roughly $20 million: $14.5 million from government funding. $5.5 million from resident per diems.

Capital Expenses

Non-profit organizations receive 90 percent funding for capital projects from the Manitoba government (through approved borrowing and long-term financing). The owner is required to put up 10 percent.

In the case of Holy Family’s $70 million project, $7 million must be raised by the owner. The Sisters have a Foundation in place that is implementing the capital campaign initiative.

All About Compassion

Mary Semus, Assistant CEO at Holy Family Home, speaks to the bond that forms between client and caregiver. “The complexity of client care is requiring rapid development of skill sets in our care providers. We now have certified health care aides, nurses, social workers – they know what they’re doing. What we’re recognizing is the need to underscore compassion in care delivery. We tell our staff to remember, ‘It’s not about me, but it starts with me.’

“It’s a stressful job. Residents may be in pain and vulnerable. Our staff support them and journey with them throughout their time here. We even acknowledge the journey that has happened upon death. The entire care team from that unit walks with the family, as they take their loved one out the front door. We also have a memorial service six months later for the family and caregivers to share memories. That supportive environment nurtures our staff members to go back and do their job.”

To serve is to love. Amen to that.


WHO: Holy Family Home
WHAT: Non-profit Long Term Care facility for the elderly. Dedicated to caregiving in a loving environment based on Christian ideals. Primarily serving the Ukrainian / Slavic communities.
WHERE: Winnipeg, Manitoba
WEBSITE: www.holyfamilyhome.mb.ca


August, 2015 Issue

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