Izak Luther might be a new face as Village Manager at Ryman Healthcare’s Hilda Ross Retirement Village but having previously been the at the helm of sister village Jean Sandel in New Plymouth, Izak laughs that he has already been fully ‘Rymanised’.
Explaining the term, he says: “I’ve heard people looking in from the outside say that that Ryman looks a little like a cult, and when you hear talk of being ‘Rymanised’ I suppose you can understand why, but it’s a good cult!
“I’d say it’s actually more like a close family, who you rely on to have your back on a daily basis and where everybody stands together.
“The team really looks out for each other and assists wherever they can, and they look after their residents like they are their own family members.”
That family feeling is tied to Ryman’s philosophy of providing care that must be ‘good enough for Mum and Dad’ and continually striving for high standards at all times.
“Ryman really practice what they preach. When it comes to our residents, no expense is spared, be it Happy Hour or medical equipment, there is no question, if residents need it, it gets done.”
“Ryman looks after their residents and they take the care aspect exceptionally seriously which is what I love.”
Izak is very aware of the mixed emotions that can come with a move into a retirement village, particularly the care centre, both from residents and their families.
“As Village Manager I believe it is very important to always have respect and empathy and to understand that people coming into care don’t necessarily want to be there.
“You can sometimes sense the anxiety of the family whose parents are moving into the care centre and you just make sure they understand that you will look after their mum and dad and always listen to what your residents need and want.”
Izak says the lockdowns have shown many families how isolated and lonely life can be in the community and subsequently have prompted a huge amount of enquiry for availability.
“When the residents move into the village the first thing they say is ‘we should have done this sooner’.
“They get that sense of community and belonging, often meeting old friends who live there, and there are regular activities. Even in lockdown they can roam around the village behind the gates whereas their friends in town were stuck in their houses unable to do anything.”
Izak describes previous Village Manager Wendy Taylor’s departure as leaving ‘some very big shoes to fill’, however he is excited about the new challenges ahead.
“We have a refurbishment project starting this year which will renew the look of the village and make it more user-friendly.
“It will give our residents a little more space and provide updated facilities, so that is an exciting challenge for both staff and residents which I look forward to.”
Before becoming a village manager Izak worked in the bio-medical field, looking after the food and cleaning needs of aged care providers. While aged care is the common theme, Izak says working more closely with older people is what makes his role so special.
“The life experience and the stories our residents tell – some of them were part of history!
“You see these pictures of the soldiers in Tokyo Harbour and then I met this man at Jean Sandel village, and he was there the day the Japanese signed their surrender!
“Listening to his stories was absolutely amazing and a privilege,” says Izak.
“For him it was just another day, but for us looking back, it was just this amazing experience. To me, they’re heroes. So, the least we can do is give them a cup of tea and make it a good one!”