When Jan got word from her sons that there was to be no more riding on buses, she realised Covid-19 was about to drastically change life as she knew it.
“Initially I had thought it was all being overstated, until my sons said ‘Mum, we think you need to stop riding on buses and take this threat seriously,” says Jan, who lives at Logan Campbell Retirement Village in Greenlane.
“My son in Hamilton said to prepare myself for New Zealand going into lockdown and he even offered for me to spend time with him there.
“I would have enjoyed that but I’m pleased I stayed here because all of us were self isolating together,” she smiles.
Ryman Healthcare actually introduced lockdown measures in all of its 34 New Zealand villages nearly two weeks before Level 4 was put in place nationally and had been screening visitors with temperature checks and signed declarations since late January.
But with the residents now advised to stay in their apartments it meant trips to the supermarket were off the cards as were visits with family and all the usual activities and events put on at the village.
Thanks to the measures Ryman took, Jan quickly felt she’d made the right decision and her three sons agreed.
“They all thought I was in a good place,” says Jan, who moved into the village two years ago from Wellington to be nearer to her family.
“From the outset I felt well supported by Ryman. They did some really, really generous things, for example we all received quite a large box of goodies containing tea, coffee, snacks, cheese, butter, all these pantry staples.
“Each week we’d get a delivery of bread, milk and biscuits plus we’d get our Happy Hour goodies in a bag, quite often with a funny little cartoon from one of our residents.”
For those who didn’t have family members on hand to bring groceries to the gate, or who couldn’t get a much sought after online shopping slot, Ryman saved the day there too, allowing residents to order them through Bidfood for twice weekly deliveries.
“Those sorts of things were very generous,” says Jan, a former medical laboratory scientist.
There were a few milestone dates during that time such as the Easter weekend, Anzac Day and Mother’s Day which residents would normally share with friends or family.
Jan says the staff would dress up and dance while doing the deliveries which would always lighten the mood and prompt a smile.
The key for Jan was getting into a good routine straight away.
“I’m not the sort of person who watches tv and stays in my nightie ‘til lunchtime, I still got up at the same time, had a shower, made the bed and had breakfast.”
The beautiful long summer lent itself to a socially distanced coffee by the bowling green with her fellow residents and usually two walks a day, circling the village five times each time.
“Those walks were great. They actually became quite sociable and we’d say hello to each other and sometimes stop and have a conversation and a catch up that way.”
When the weather permitted, the village staff held a weekly Zumba class outside which everyone could join from their balconies, and with Jan able to live stream her Onehunga instructor, she was able to do Zumba four times a week!
She admits there was a bit more tv-watching than usual, including the obligatory 1pm update and a few movies in the evening, and the regular chats with her three sons and her brother over in Australia were highlights too.
“We started Skyping and Facetiming so that was nice, and I haven’t done video calling before.”
A few of her travel plans have had to be scrapped, including visiting her late husband’s family in Amsterdam, but Jan remains pragmatic.
“I recognised that I couldn’t change it and needed to go with the flow. And I’m prepared to spend my money nationally as opposed to internationally!”
Until then, she has been making the most of Level 2 restrictions being lifted by catching up with her three sons.
“Being able to see my family again has been wonderful,” she says.
Sales Advisor Liz says now is a great time to come into the village to take a look at the available apartments.