Just four months after moving into Evelyn Page Retirement Village John and Jan found themselves suddenly facing a very different life in lockdown.
The Orewa village had joined the rest of Ryman Healthcare’s 33 New Zealand villages in closing its doors to visitors weeks before the government put the nation into lockdown and all the usual activities had been put on hold.
While the future was uncertain at that point, they say there was no doubt in their minds that being in the Evelyn Page ‘bubble’ had been the best move for them.
“We made the right decision coming here,” says John.
“They certainly have taken the best care of us. They have thought of everything,” says Jan.
With one son in Christchurch and the other in the USA, it was reassuring for their family to know that John and Jan were being well looked after.
“It was definitely peace of mind for them, with us being here” says Jan. “That was one less thing for them to worry about!”
The couple, who have lived in Orewa for 20 years, say that pre-lockdown the village Happy Hours had been a real highlight but the staff had done a great job of keeping that going during lockdown with Happy Hour delivered to their door instead.
“We had glasses of wine on the balcony and talked to the people we were in a corner with which was really nice.
“Everything at the village was still quite new to us but this helped us to get to know our floor better.
“And there always seemed to be something at the door for us or a nice surprise,” says Jan.
Indeed, all their grocery deliveries were taken care of, plus a weekly drop off of milk, bread and biscuits, and any other essentials they needed.
The village also organised flu shots for staff and residents and set up a counselling line for those who needed someone to talk to.
John and Jan say they quickly settled into a new routine which included their beloved eight-year-old black Labrador Donna, a retired guide dog.
“I’d take Donna for a walk in the morning and Jan would join us for a walk in the afternoon,” says John. “The weather has been so good we’ve been able to make the most of it.”
Back at home the couple would busy themselves with puzzles or John would build a bit more of his remote control model plane.
“I managed to string that out over five weeks, so that kept me busy,” says John, who normally volunteers as a community patrol officer for the police.
Jan would also read books on her iPad and the device also came in useful for talking to their two sons and their three grandsons.
“I think our family felt better knowing that we were being looked after so well,” says Jan.
As the number of Covid cases gradually dropped and New Zealand has been released back into first Level 3 and then Level 2, the couple says they are enjoying the things they had previously taken for granted even more.
“I had missed being able to just go up and talk to other people so that’s what I was looking forward to doing the most,” says Jan.
And for John: “Getting a takeaway coffee! It was great just going to McDonald’s to get a coffee.”
And there was one thing that all three had missed and they wasted no time at all once Level 2 officially rolled over.
Says Jan: “That was the first thing we did - take the dog to the beach! It was such a good feeling to walk on the beach again after all this time and Donna loved it too.”
Sales Advisors Steph and Jo say now is a great time to come into the village to take a look at the available apartments.