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Recently opened Abbotsford respite facility welcomes first family

The Newton family (from left) – Brenda, Ian, Kylie and Sam – are grateful that Matthew’s House is now open in Abbotsford. - Submitted photo
The Newton family (from left) – Brenda, Ian, Kylie and Sam – are grateful that Matthew’s House is now open in Abbotsford.
— image credit: Submitted photo

Early in December, Brenda and her husband Ian went to a staff Christmas party.

They took their son, Sam, to a movie. They enjoyed a night of uninterrupted sleep.

While none of that seems extraordinary, for the Newton family these are rare experiences.

That’s because their daughter, Kylie, lives with complex health-care needs and requires 24/7 expert attention, making the ordinary tasks of everyday living an ongoing challenge.

But thanks to Matthew’s House, the family is getting a break.

Eight-year-old Kylie is the first child to say in the facility, which opened in November as part of the Dave Lede Campus of Care on Marshall Road adjacent to Abbotsford Regional Hospital.

Kylie’s condition requires her to be tube fed. Her parents are working on toilet-training her but she is still diapered.

She is non-verbal and uses a wheelchair although she is now learning to walk.

The Newtons have had multiple tests done but doctors still do not know the cause of Kylie’s condition, and it’s been a steep learning curve for everyone.

For the first four years of Kylie’s life, they tried to do it on their own with the help of family and friends. Yet, as she grew, it became clear that they would need specialized help – and opportunities for rest.

Until now, the Newtons have travelled to Vancouver if they wanted to take advantage of any respite but, as Kylie’s needs change, their options were running out.

“Kylie is learning to walk which means we can no longer use the respite care we were using in Vancouver because they do not have the staff resources to monitor a mobile child,” Brenda explains.

As they became aware of Matthew’s House, Brenda even wondered if Kylie would be rejected there too. That was not the case.

“Kylie was not only accepted, the staff there embraced her development and made that a priority as part of her care while she stayed there,” Brenda says.

Being able to access a specialized resource like Matthew’s House enables Brenda and Ian to get the rest they need and strengthens the whole family as they are also able to invest time and attention in Sam.

Knowing that Kylie is safe and well cared for in a home that she loves to visit makes all the difference in the world. Brenda hopes that other families like theirs will also visit Matthew’s House.

The home is the vision of Doug and Andrea Froese, whose son Matthew was dependent on others for care. They wanted to create a respite resource for families that would be a legacy for Matthew and would encourage healthy families.

Matthew’s House provides a home-like environment with a playroom, a playground, state-of-the-art medical facilities, and experienced caregivers.

Brenda wants to thank the Froeses for their vision and others who have helped make that vision a reality.

“When I see all the leaves on the donor wall at Matthew’s House, I realize that there are so many people who have given generously to make this place possible,” she says. “We can’t thank them enough.”

For more information about Matthew’s House, visit matthouse.ca or call 604-853-2244.

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