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Singing through lockdown from the safety of the village bubble

Written by Maryvonne Gray
on May 27, 2020

‘All our needs are met’, says Edmund Hillary’s Joan

Joan has loved every minute of her nine years living at Edmund Hillary Retirement Village, and going into lockdown was just more confirmation that she had made the right move.

She was so impressed that Ryman Healthcare was doing its utmost to keep all of its residents safe, she even wrote a letter to TV3’s The Project listing all the many measures the company had taken in its 34 New Zealand villages.

“We have just been so well looked after I wanted to tell them,” she says.

“The management and staff went that extra mile to keep us happy and occupied, and always with lots of smiles.”

Ryman started screening non-essential visitors to its villages weeks before the country went into lockdown and everyone who did visit had to have a temperature check and sign a declaration stating they were not unwell, and hadn’t been in contact with people coming from overseas.

Residents were also advised to stay within the village and staff stepped up the number of deliveries of groceries and supplies to reduce the need to leave the grounds.

“We’d still get our happy hour each week, just delivered to the door. On Wednesdays we’d receive a bottle of milk, a loaf of bread and a packet of biscuits and we also received a huge carton of groceries including essentials and some sweet treats.”

In her letter to TV3, she wrote: “This was so generous and thoughtful of Ryman, they are to be commended for their spontaneous gifts.”

Along with waving to her family from afar when they brought her groceries, Joan says these gifts were a real highlight of the lockdown as it was always exciting to see what it could be.

And she was pleased to see that Ryman was looking after the team too.

“The staff got a pay rise during Level 4 and were given free meals and groceries to take home to their families.

“Flu vaccinations were made available to everyone and a counselling line was set up,” she says.

“What is not to like about being in this retirement village? Thanks to the vigilance of the teams who look after us all, my family are very happy I am in such a safe bubble.”

Joan says the staff would set up a boom box outside different apartment blocks each day to play music for all the residents.

“Each apartment block had a day where we’d all pop out onto our decks to sing! The singing was another highlight for me.”

Joan put her time in lockdown to good use. Having worked as a volunteer for cancer charities for decades, she decided to get busy and organise the mountain of photos and cuttings she had collected.

“I thought it’s about time I did a sort out and that took me quite a while.

“Then I’d do the wordsearch every day which I thoroughly enjoy, I read a stack of books, and I’d go for a walk and the day just went!”

“You can walk around the village in about 12 minutes but so often I’d get home 20 or even 40 minutes later because I’d meet so many people and I’d stop and talk. I’ve never seen so many people walking here!”

The move to Level 2 was wonderful for Joan who could finally visit her family again. Having gone from weekly dinners with them to not seeing them at all had been the hardest part.

“That first family dinner was absolutely amazing!” she says.

She is being careful about what activities she resumes for now. She has booked in to have her hair and nails done – with masks on – but isn’t inviting anyone round or going for coffee yet.

“One of the first things I did was go to the supermarket. It was so nice to buy all those little things that I couldn’t find on the online shop and feel a bit more normal again.”

Sales Advisors Becky and Colin say now is a great time to come into the village to take a look at the available apartments.

About Ryman Healthcare:

Ryman was founded in 1984 and has become one of New Zealand’s largest listed companies. The company owns and operates 45 retirement villages in New Zealand and Australia which are home to more than 13,900 residents and the company employs 6,800 team members.

Media advisory: For further information, photos, interviews or comment please contact Group Corporate Affairs Manager Silke Marsh on +64 27 294 3609 or Communications Advisor Maryvonne Gray on 027 552 0767.

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