Helping Bruyère Make Life Better

When Steve Madely’s mom Josephine got hurt, Bruyère helped her recover and live longer. Now Steve’s urging us to help Bruyère support more families, through its Celebrating Life at Every Stage fundraising campaign to unite palliative and complex care.

Bruyère made a deference for Steve Madely and his family.

Her name was Josephine Madely and her son Steve says, “She loved life.” Thanks to Bruyère, he adds, she was able to live longer and better. Steve Madely’s voice is a familiar one in the Ottawa area, since the retired broadcaster was a fixture on CFRA radio for over two decades. When he talks about his mom, though, his eloquence hits home. “She also loved laughter,” he recalls, “and was a great sport. As a boy, I remember her climbing on my bike handlebars for a daring ride to the corner store. That was in the late 50s, when ladies wore hats, gloves, dresses and high heels to go shopping. She got a great charge out of the neighbours waving as we rode by.”

Born in 1911 in Montreal, Josephine also got a charge out of crafting fine hats. “Her first job was as a milliner,” Steve explains. “Her wardrobe was always tailored and modest.  She abhorred extravagance but loved fashion.” That impromptu bike ride notwithstanding, “Mom was always perfectly coiffed and smartly dressed.”

Josephine (right) with her granddaughter Vanessa and daughter-in-law Sylvie

His stories about her are full of affection: “She met my dad, three years older than her, through one of her four sisters. He was a dashing MAA basketball player, a locomotive draftsman, had a weekend band, a jalopy car and as mom would tell it, swept her off her feet.”
They met at the start of The Great Depression and married just before the war. Steve’s brother was born in 1945, followed by the future broadcaster in 1947. Clearly, the boys adored their mother. “She saw a silver lining to every cloud,” Steve remembers.  “She would help my brother and me through our defeats with the same assessment as for our victories, saying, ‘That was a good experience!’  Everything was a learning opportunity.”

So it was a blow, later in her life, when they learned she’d had a serious fall and might not recover. “We thought it was over,” her younger son admits.  “The hospital doctor told us as much and that she would never walk again.”

Josephine loved her family. Here she is with her older son, Peter, and granddaughter Vanessa. Her family circle also included Peter’s wife Sylvie, Steve, Steve’s late wife Gayle and their children Todd, Samantha and Zachary.

But walk she did, indeed, and that’s one of the many reasons Steve Madely is a huge supporter of Bruyère. He’s also spokesperson for Celebrating Life at Every Stage, the Bruyère Foundation’s $6M fundraising campaign to unite and enhance palliative and complex care.

Back when Josephine Madely took that fall, Steve and his family looked to Bruyère for help. “Thanks to Bruyère’s incredible staff and her own hard work, within weeks mom was back on her feet using a walker,” he notes, adding, “She lived almost four more wonderful years at a nursing home where she became known affectionately as The Walker.” That’s because she’d go  around each day to visit all the residents who were unable to leave their rooms. “Thank God for Bruyère!”

Steve’s sentiment is one shared by families far and wide.  As the region’s largest health-care organization serving older adults and vulnerable people, Bruyère is our trusted “go-to” for everything from rehabilitation services to palliative care.

But it’s Bruyère’s palliative approach to care that’s especially esteemed. Centred around dignity and respect and focused on providing comfort and supporting quality of life, it makes the most of life for patients—no matter what. Since people with life-limiting illnesses can and sometimes do live for many years, this sort of expertise and mindset are priceless for our community.

That’s where the Celebrating Life at Every Stage campaign comes in. It will allow Bruyère to offer a complete, palliative approach to care for 10 times the current number of patients. The renowned, 31-bed William and Maureen Shenkman Palliative Care Unit situated downtown, at Élisabeth Bruyère Hospital in the ByWard Market, is moving to Saint-Vincent Hospital on Cambridge Street, where there are over 300 patients.

Construction of the new palliative care unit at Saint-Vincent is underway and it’s set to welcome patients in summer 2023. Better yet, with both the palliative care and complex care programs in the same place, all patients will have access to better, more complete and life enhancing care.

Bruyère chief of staff Dr. Shaun McGuire puts it this way, “This is the single most important thing we can do for patient care at Bruyère right now.” No wonder Steve Madely is so enthused and he’s encouraging the rest of us to help, financially, to make it happen. Calling the care his mom received “the best gift our family ever received,” he adds, “Now, I’d like to help Bruyère give that same gift to many more families.”