Calgary

Seniors reunited thanks to opening of Wing Kei long-term care facility

The 78-bed facility includes a main lounge, dining room, multi-purpose rooms, indoor garden, chapel and areas for leisure activities.

Kok Tsang and her husband have lived apart at different Calgary retirement homes for the past 6 years

Dignitaries cut a ribbon to officially open Phase 2 of the Wing Kei Greenview seniors residence in Calgary. Included are Wing Kei CEO Kathy Tam, right, and Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman, second from right. (Lucie Edwardson/CBC)

For the past six years, Kok Tsang and her husband have lived apart at different Calgary retirement homes.

Originally from China, the pair were reunited last month at the Wing Kei Greenview Phase 2 long-term care centre, which celebrated its official opening Friday in northeast Calgary.

The 78-bed facility includes a main lounge, dining room, multi-purpose rooms, indoor garden, chapel and areas for leisure activities. The chapel is surrounded by a greenhouse extending to the second and third floors.

Tsang says residents feel at home at the centre, where they can communicate in their native language and eat familiar foods.

Wing Kei CEO Kathy Tam says those home-style comforts are important.

"We see some seniors come in and they may have been labelled as, they are aggressive and they have behaviour [issues], but it's a actually lot about communication," she said.

"[And] the food, food is so important, especially when you're old … if you start eating something you're not familiar with."

Wing Kei CEO Kathy Tam says having homestyle comforts are important for the residents. (Lucie Edwardson/CBC)

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman echoed that sentiment.

"My grandmother was in Edmonton and the building she was in had a wing that was Chinese care," she said. "For the residents to be able to … listen to the news in their first language that they're most comfortable with is so important, as well as that relationship with the staff," she said.

Wing Kei's first long-term care facility opened in 2005 in the Crescent Heights neighbourhood.

The province put $5 million toward Wing Kei in 2016 and will contribute operational dollars over the next five years.

With files from Lucie Edwardson