Ryman Community News


Ryman Healthcare COVID-19 update | 20 March 2020

Written by David King
on March 20, 2020

Ryman Healthcare COVID-19 update March 20, 2020

We wanted to get in touch ahead of the weekend to remind everyone about the measures in place to guard against the spread of COVID-19.

We are still unaware of anyone in the Ryman community who has been affected by COVID-19.

One of the best defences is to limit person-to-person contact, so we have introduced tight restrictions on visits to villages and suspended communal activities.

We are also concerned for the wellbeing of our residents during this period, and we are working on activities to keep them engaged and we have more on the way.

We’ve had strong support from our community for the restrictions, so thanks for your cooperation.

The measures include:

  • We ask that all non-essential visits to village residents are put on hold. If you have a family member who is extremely frail or in palliative care you can still visit.
  • Essential visits for residents are where your loved one is unwell, and/or not visiting may cause distress to them or to you.
  • Non-essential visits are where you can postpone or get in touch by phone or Skype. The fewer visitors we get, the smaller the chance of COVID-19 infection.
  • All visits to care centre residents by children under 16 years of age are put on hold.
  • All group activities within the villages – including happy hours and Triple A exercise classes – are suspended. There will be no activity calendar for the moment.
  • All sporting and community events, including bowls and club meetings, are suspended.
  • A new security check-in at our village gates, in addition to the reception check.

Two new restrictions we wish to introduce are:

  • Visits to care centre residents will be limited to two people one time a day, and the visits should be of short duration with appropriate social distancing.
  • Visits are limited to a resident’s room or outdoors, but not in communal areas.

These new measures are consistent with changes introduced in Australia for aged care facilities and we think are important precautionary measures to keep everyone safe.
Who is your main contact?

We ask that each family thinks about who the key contact for our village might be for each resident in the weeks and months ahead. Visiting may have to be restricted further in the future, and this person would be the main visitor. This applies to independent residents as well. You do not have to act on this right now – we will get back to you on this.

Ring, ring why don’t you give your loved one a call?

We will do everything we can to help you keep in touch during this period. The best way to connect is by phone, and we are finding other ways to keep people in touch.

So, for families – don’t be afraid to call your loved one to see how they are doing.

We will be delivering weekly packs to keep our independent residents connected and engaged, and we are working on additional services to help.

For residents who are online, you can find wellbeing advice at www.rymanhealthcare.co.nz/wellness.

Please remember that we are here to help, so do not hesitate to get in touch with your village team with any concerns you may have.

Thanks again to everyone for your help, support and feedback as we work through this.

We have included a Q&A, and a reminder about our strategy to fight COVID-19 below, along with links to helpful websites.

Have a good weekend and stay safe.
For queries contact 0800 588 222 (New Zealand) or email humanresources@rymanhealthcare.co.nz

How do we keep COVID-19 out?
Our best defence remains:

  • Staying away from our villages if you are unwell or need to be in self-isolation. If you have been unwell, you must be symptom-free for 48 hours before visiting
  • If you live in a village, avoid gathering in groups and person-to-person contact as much as possible
  • Practising good hand hygiene – that is, washing hands regularly with soap and water, and cleansing with hand sanitiser.
  • Coughing or sneezing into tissues or elbows.
  • Avoiding shaking hands or unnecessary contact.
  • Practising social distancing – staying at least 2 m away is safest.

Questions and answers:

Here’s a selection of commonly asked questions:

Resident questions:

I am an independent resident in my 80s, can I still shop and go to my volunteering commitments?
You are free to come and go as you choose, but we strongly suggest that you limit person-to-person contact and practice social distancing as recommended. Supermarket shopping is fine – it is easy to keep your distance. We would not recommend you continue with volunteering for the moment for your own safety. It is very important to practise good hygiene.

Are we in lock down?
We are not in lock down, but we have stopped large communal events, group activities and we have restricted visiting to essential visits only.

I have a doctor’s appointment next week – should I still go?
You should if you need to. We suggest you should ring your doctor, they might be able to help over the phone.

Can my grandchildren visit?
We would prefer that visits from children are restricted for the foreseeable future. This is because overseas research shows that while children may not be affected by the virus, they are likely to spread it, and they will want to give you a hug. The exception is if the person is very frail or in palliative care and the visit is essential to them.

My son is my main support, he visits three times a week with my shopping. Can he continue to visit?
Yes. We would suggest he visits once a week and phones you at other times.

A group of neighbours is still gathering for meetings, and I have politely declined. Should they still be meeting?
One of the best defences is avoiding person-to-person contact. If the meetings can be postponed for the moment, they should be.

What about your staff? Isn’t there a chance they could get infected?
Our staff are having temperature checks and only coming to work if they, and their families, are well. They are fully trained in infection control measures and they know how important it is to your health to stay away if they are in doubt. We need them to stay well, and we are doing our best to ensure their wellbeing during this emergency.

Will your staff be paid if they have to stay away?
Our staff will still be paid if they are unwell regardless of their entitlements.

Can I visit or help other residents?
We think it is best to restrict visits for now. If you do meet other residents, practise social distancing – keeping 2m apart. We know you already have strong community networks, so the best way to help is to call your friends and neighbours on the phone to check on them.

Relative questions:

My mother has dementia and is in a special care unit, but she is well. Should I visit?
We’d recommend you ring your mum rather than visit if it is not essential that you see her right now. The best way to keep in touch is by phone.

My grandfather is very unwell, and we don’t have a crystal ball – we don’t know when we will see him again. Can we visit?
Yes. As long as you are following our visitor recommendations regarding essential visits.

Can I deliver shopping to my mum who is an independent apartment or townhouse?
Yes, of course for essential items. You should follow all the other rules about hygiene, and do not visit if you are unwell.

Will I be able to visit someone who is frail or in palliative care?
Yes. These visits are welcomed as long as you check in and follow our visitor procedures.

My mum is independent and is getting visits from a district nurse. Can these continue?
Yes. The nurse must check in and sign in as part of the checking procedures for all essential visitors.

Ryman Healthcare’s COVID-19 plans:

Phase 1 (current phase): Keep it out: We are doing everything possible to keep any COVID-19 infections out of our villages, and we are in this phase right now. 

Phase 2: Stamp it out: This is where there are cases in the community, and we get a COVID-19 infection. We will use infection control measures to contain it and stamp it out as fast as possible to prevent further spread. This will involve quarantining the rooms or sections of the village where the infection is and isolating any residents who have had contact.

Phase 3: Manage it: If COVID-19 becomes widespread in the community and we have multiple infections in a village, we will move to a management phase, using our infection control measures to eradicate the virus and prevent further spread. This will involve quarantining entire villages.
Phase 4: Recovery: Lifting quarantine restrictions and helping people to recover.

How COVID-19 spreads

Transmission of COVID-19 is considered to occur primarily through respiratory droplets and secretions. The virus is most likely to spread from person-to-person through:

  • direct contact with a person while they are infectious.
  • contact with droplets when a person with a confirmed infection coughs or sneezes.
  • touching objects or surfaces that were contaminated by droplets (like those from a cough or sneeze) from a person with a confirmed infection and then touching your mouth or face.


COVID-19 symptoms include fever, a dry cough, and sometimes difficulty breathing. Symptoms are like a range of other illnesses such as influenza and does not necessarily mean that you have COVID-19. Difficulty in breathing is a possible sign of pneumonia and requires immediate medical attention.

To stop the spread of COVID-19 we ask you to:

  • Practice good hand hygiene – that is, washing hands regularly with soap and water, and cleansing with hand sanitiser.
  • Cough or sneeze into tissues or elbows.
  • Avoid shaking hands or unnecessary contact.



Gordon MacLeod
Chief Executive


Cheyne Chalmers
Chief Operations Officer

About Ryman Healthcare:

Ryman was founded in 1984 and has become one of New Zealand’s largest listed companies. The company owns and operates 43 retirement villages in New Zealand and Australia which are home to more than 12,750 residents and the company employs 6,300 staff.

Media advisory: For further information, photos, interviews or comment please contact Corporate Affairs Manager David King on 03 366 4069 or 021 499 602 or Communications Advisor Maryvonne Gray on 027 552 0767.

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