Kathie was thoroughly embracing her new life at Bob Owens Retirement Village, having just moved into her serviced apartment in December.
“That’s where we picked up the news on this virus and one could soon tell we were going to get affected here in New Zealand,” says Kathie, 77, who suffered mild effects from polio during an outbreak when she was five.
It didn’t take long for Ryman Healthcare, who operate Bob Owens, to react, with screening of visitors who had travelled overseas set up in all of its villages from late January.
Security guards were then put on the gate and from March 16 all visits to the village were stopped apart from those deemed essential.
“I think because I remember the polio outbreak in 1948 it resonated with me. When you get to my age you accept what’s happening and know one has to do certain things,” she says.
For Kathie, who had only sold her house on Devonport Road a matter of weeks earlier, the timing was particularly pertinent.
“If I had stayed at Devonport Road I may have become scared but here I felt very safe,” says Kathie, who left Auckland for the Bay of Plenty 10 years ago.
“Because of everything that Ryman has done I think we have all felt very safe and secure, everyone has been marvellous. Having the security guards there gave me real peace of mind.”
Assisted living in a serviced apartment comes with a main meal of the day; Ryman also supplied any additional meals required by serviced apartment residents plus a weekly delivery of bread, milk and biscuits and morning and afternoon tea every day.
All residents also received a giftbox of pantry staples, twice weekly Bidfood grocery orders and a weekly Happy Hour in a Bag was supplied – totalling an impressive 9,000 Bidfood orders and 56,000 Happy Hour bags across the country.
“With our being in isolation, the luxuries were lovely. Receiving those was a real boon for everyone. I think everyone looked forward to it and appreciated it and it was so heart-warming that they cared for us to do that,” says Kathie.
“The staff would also serve us our meals in our rooms and they were so nice to us and would stop and have a wee chat to see how we were doing. They were always so friendly and happy.”
It was a relief for her brother who lives in Auckland that his little sister was in good hands.
“He was very happy I was being looked after,” says Kathie, who got the chance to do Zoom calls with him with some help from staff.
A big challenge was finding things to do since all the usual activities were off the cards but as a self-described ‘crossword freak’, Kathie made the most of the opportunity to do her daily puzzles or she would read a book. For a change of scene she would enjoy walks in the sunshine around the ‘absolutely beautiful’ grounds or just stand up and look out the window at the beautiful view of the hills.
As the alert levels have gradually lifted, Kathie has been thrilled to resume some more activities.
“We can now have morning and afternoon tea in the dining room but with the staff attending to our needs and there’s lots of social interaction and laughing which is good to see again.
“We also did our exercises in the atrium while observing social distancing. A lot of us were on our balconies looking down and it was really good music for us to move to – great for our body and our minds,” she says.
The much-anticipated return of her weekly visits from her dear friends and their dog proved to be a real thrill. “Beth usually picks me up once a week. We go out for coffee in the appropriate places and that has been just delightful!”
Sales advisor Jan would love to welcome you and a family member to visit the village and view the available apartments.