Like many Kiwis, Josie took the news of the Covid-19 pandemic that sent New Zealand into lockdown with a good deal of worry and anxiety, especially on seeing how quickly the crisis was escalating.
The Grace Joel Retirement Village resident says: “I followed the daily updates but in the end I had to get up and walk away from the television, I was so upset about everything that was happening.”
To counter these understandable feelings, the village team stepped up their efforts to ensure their residents felt safe and looked after with the extra TLC being much appreciated, says Josie, who has lived at the St Heliers village for 13 years.
“The staff were wonderful, absolutely wonderful. I couldn’t have asked for better.
“Every time we turned around they were there taking our temperatures, bringing us meals or our Happy Hour goodies and always happy and smiling.”
This reassurance and positivity kept Josie buoyed through the stressful time as well as offering peace of mind for her family members too, since they had been unable to visit since March 16.
Ryman Healthcare had restricted visits to its 34 New Zealand villages since late January and closed them to non-essential visitors almost two weeks before the rest of the country went into Level 4 lockdown.
Security was put on the gate and those visitors who were deemed essential had to have their temperature checked and sign a declaration stating they were well and didn’t have any symptoms.
For those who didn’t have family members living nearby to drop off supplies at the gate, Ryman provided weekly deliveries of milk, bread and biscuits, any groceries needed and, since Josie lives in a serviced apartment, all the meals she required.
The Happy Hour deliveries Josie also received were just some of 56,000 packages handed out to 8,000 residents over seven weeks up and down the country.
“They thought of everything!” she says.
In normal times, there are all sorts of events and activities put on in the village which Josie loves to attend, along with regular trips out of the village too.
But, with the restrictions in place, Josie would instead count her blessings and focus on the positives of spending time in her sunny ground floor apartment.
“I have got a lovely room, it’s got a big deck and windows and I’m very happy there.
“I occupy myself alright, even though I’m half blind and half deaf these days! I used to be very creative with flowers, knitting, everything but I can’t do any of that now.”
Instead, Josie has found another creative outlet, with her mind turning to poetry to sing the praises of the ‘helpful, kind and caring’ Grace Joel staff whose care has been ‘without fault’.
Then there’s the iPad, which Josie uses to play online Scrabble either with her friend who lives upstairs in the village or her two daughters, who she also frequently video calls on Messenger.
While Ryman provided more than 3,800 extra devices to connect more residents with their families, Josie had already learned to video call pre-lockdown.
“It is really wonderful, it’s almost like being with them,” she says.
Josie also made the most of the lovely warm weather to get some exercise.
“I went around the bowling green which is about 200 steps. I got up to five times – I thought that was pretty darn good!” she says proudly.
With New Zealand’s move to Level 2, some of the restrictions were finally lifted and she received a welcome visit from her daughter who lives in Whangaparaoa.
“She couldn’t wait to come and see me!” smiles Josie. “And it was wonderful seeing her.”
And a long-awaited trip out of the village with her friend went down a treat too.
“We went to a little restaurant on the beach at Half Moon Bay and we had our usual macaroni cheese and fish cakes washed down with a glass of wine.
“We always have the same thing and it makes us happy!”
Sales Advisor Bronwen Steere says now is a great time to come into the village to take a look at the available apartments.