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International Nurses Day: A calling to care

Written by Margot Taylor
on May 12, 2020

May 12 is International Nurses Day.

The world’s nurses and their expertise, kindness, patience and humility have never been more important.

The amazing nurses and carers at Ryman Healthcare's villages are at the heart of our mission to keep residents and staff safe from COVID-19. They have worked extra hours,  adapted to changing conditions and supported both our residents and their families during this challenging time.

On International Nurses Day we thank our selfless nursing staff, and the hundreds of our residents who were nurses, for their work.

The theme of this year’s International Nurses Day is: ‘Nursing the World to Health’.

Ryman Healthcare communications advisor Margot Taylor asked Ryman nurses and residents who were nurses, what drew them to the profession, what they think of the nursing response to COVID-19 and why they love to care.


Pat Lilleyman, 80, Level 2 Registered nurse 

What made you decide to become a nurse?

I was an immigrant from England, and my father wanted us all to be farmer’s wives and I thought 'I’m not going to be a farmer’s wife, I’m going to go nursing'.


What do you think of the way nurses around the world have responded to COVID-19?

I think they are magnificent, the way they have put their lives on the line.

I like to think I would have done that.


Ivy Han, Clinical Manager at Nellie Melba Retirement Village

What is the most rewarding part of being a nurse?

When your residents/clients thank you for the good care, and your team members thank you for your support and helping them succeed.

What has COVID-19 taught you about nursing?

Life can be so short and vulnerable, but people can stay so strong.

Our nurses have shown incredible resilience during COVID, with a ‘duty of love’, more than duty of care.


Tracy Vertigor, Endorsed Enrolled Nurse at Weary Dunlop Retirement Village

What made you decide to become a nurse?

Because my mum has been sick for many years with Parkinson's, and I became a PCA (Patient Care Assistant) to give her better care. After being a PCA I wanted to learn more, and be able to help more, not just my mum, but in aged care. I’ve always had a liking for aged care.

What has COVID-19 taught you about nursing?

How important we are to the whole world!

How instrumental we are in people having good physical and mental health.


Rosalind White, 81, Charge Nurse, Midwife

What was the most rewarding part of being a nurse? 

Working in Maternal and Child Health for the last 30 years.

I was able to help mums and babies.

But I liked all types of nursing, I loved working in the operating theatre.

What do you think of the way nurses around the world have responded to COVID-19?

They have been absolutely brilliant.

Some Australian nurses have gone over to Italy.

That’s phenomenal that they would go from here, to somewhere that’s riddled with COVID-19.

They are amazing! 


Wendy Gacayan, Registered Nurse at Weary Dunlop Retirement Village

What made you decide to become a nurse?

I grew up with my grandmothers, and there was an incident where my grandmother had Tetanus and we lived in a remote area, and she passed away within two days.

I feel like if the healthcare providers had a better understanding of how to care for people I think it would have been a better result.

What has COVID-19 taught you about nursing?

That we are there for residents a companion, as a friend, as someone to talk to when they need to as much as for all the other practical care.

About Ryman Healthcare:

Ryman was founded in 1984 and has become one of New Zealand’s largest listed companies. The company owns and operates 45 retirement villages in New Zealand and Australia which are home to more than 13,900 residents and the company employs 6,800 team members.

Media advisory: For further information, photos, interviews or comment please contact our media team on

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