On Thursday, 16 September, Magnolia Gardens seniors living community in Langley City celebrates 20 years of excellence serving local seniors and their families.
In 2001, Magnolia Gardens was one of the very first Independent Living seniors residences to open in Langley. The idea of a community for active seniors who wanted to leave behind the hassle of homeownership and daily life and instead enjoy the all-inclusive lifestyle of a retirement community was a new one for Langley and Magnolia Gardens’ parent company, Century Group Lands Corporation.
The Challenge to Create Senior Living Communities
General Manager, Pam Murphy, was there the day the concept was born. “I was a real estate agent working with Century Group on selling a phased development called the Langley Meadows ” she recalls. “One day, an older gentleman named Bert walked into our show suite and asked why no one was building housing solutions for the seniors of Langley.”
This observation by a concerned senior was the starting point for Bria Communities, a seniors living concept developed by Century Group. Today, Bria Communities operates Magnolia Gardens and Sunridge Gardens in Langley and two senior residences in Tsawwassen, BC.
Changes in Retirement Living Over 20 Years
Pam Murphy was on the ground floor for that conversation, and 20+ years later, continues to lead the way at Magnolia Gardens. “Seniors living has changed a lot in twenty years,” she says, noting that the most significant change has been improved technology. “From keyless door locks to wireless personal safety devices and our ‘Good Morning’ buttons installed in every suite that allows residents to confirm their health and safety each morning discreetly. These advances give our residents great peace of mind.” She also notes that tech-savvy seniors who have Netflix and email and Facebook accounts mean an increased focus on providing wireless access throughout the building.
But over two decades, seniors’ basic needs have not changed. “I think there is a commonality in what seniors want—they want to be treated with respect, to enjoy good food, to have a sense of community, and to have purpose in their lives.”
Longevity of Staff is the Secret to Success
These are the values that shape the community that Pam and her team serve each day. “I take great pride every time a resident’s family member says to me, “my Mother calls this her home.” That’s an indicator of our success.”
Another indicator, notes Tanya Snow, Director of Bria Communities, is the longevity of the staff. “There are very few businesses that can boast the service records that Magnolia Gardens has. Pam herself has been there since day one. Karen Tavera and Melba Morris, both Care Aides in the Care Centre, joined the team in year one.”
In addition Executive Chef, Michael Maciborski and Recreation Manager Holly Dorn have been part of the team for 16 years and Director of Care Sue Wilson for 11 years. “I think this speaks to what’s going on behind the scenes. These people don’t just do a job and then go home; their hearts are involved,” reflects Tanya. “You can see it in the quality of relationships they develop with residents and in their commitment to enriching the lives of each person they serve.”
A Bright Future for Magnolia Gardens
Despite the lingering challenges associated with Covid-19, the future is bright for Magnolia Gardens. “After 20 years, it was time to freshen things up,” says Pam. “Last year, we started by refreshing our brand and updating all our interior and exterior signage. This year we’ve initiated a renovation of most of the common areas on our first floor.” The reno will reconfigure spaces to make them more individually purposeful. It includes a new breakfast bistro, designated bar area, expanded reception area, and updated furniture and decor in the lounge. “It’s been ten years since our last reno,” says Pam, “And I’ve got my eye on a baby grand piano to be the cherry on top in our lounge!”
When Bert first walked into the Langley Meadows show suite, Sean Hodgins, the president of Century Group, a family-owned development company, based in New Westminster, was a young man. “Seniors need communities where they connect through food, friendships and shared activities,” he comments. “We want to craft spaces that increase the sum of human happiness, and I think Magnolia Gardens does exactly that.”
On Thursday, 16 September, Magnolia Gardens Independent Living residents will celebrates their 20th anniversary by participating in their Annual General Meeting in the morning. In the afternoon residents will enjoy live music, champagne, cake, and speeches by select special guests including Langley City Mayor, Val van den Broek.