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Surrounded by smiles at Bert Sutcliffe

Written by Maryvonne Gray
on June 05, 2020

As an avid patchworker, Gillian had a slightly different take on the enforced lockdown than others may have had.

“It’s been great during lockdown,” says the Bert Sutcliffe Retirement Village resident. “I have got a lot of patchworking done!”

While she missed all the activities she would normally take part in at the village, such as Ryman’s regular in-house Triple A exercise classes and Aquafit in the pool, Gillian understood why the strict measures had to be taken.

Ryman Healthcare actually began screening visitors who had travelled overseas from late January and then put security guards on the gate from March 16, to prevent all non-essential visitors from coming to the village, nearly two weeks before the rest of the country went into Level 4 lockdown.

“Ryman were very good at communicating with us and sent us numerous newsletters explaining why we were going into lockdown,” says Gillian, who has lived in her top floor serviced apartment for over three years.

“I think that’s why I felt so safe being here. It felt like the best place. I could see other people, the staff were always about and all the people I knew were always smiling.”

It was also great peace of mind for her son, who lives in Glasgow, and her daughter, who lives down the road in Devonport, knowing that their mum was being looked after in the village bubble.

“That was one of the big reasons I came here in the first place, so they would never have to worry about me,” says Gillian.

The retired Auckland Girls’ Grammar maths teacher applied a rational approach to the lockdown period by quickly falling into a new routine.

She would work on her patchworking for two to three hours every morning, using patterns sent by the Guild she is a member of to keep the creative juices flowing during lockdown.

“They sent ideas for a block each week, one for children, one for a man’s quilt and one that was kiwiana, and we will eventually join them all up to make community quilts.

“I am a traditional patchworker and I do the tops and someone else quilts them.” Gillian would then break for the daily news updates and her midday meal, which was brought to her apartment instead of being served in the dining room.

“That was nice and I knew the staff coming along. They would also bring us our Happy Hour in a bag which was a great idea.”

On top of that, all residents had the option of twice-weekly Bidfood grocery orders and a weekly delivery of bread, milk and biscuits.

“I didn’t need to use the Bidfood order because my granddaughter would bring my shopping to the gate. She did it until school started and then my daughter did it. I was well-looked after by my family and by Ryman, it was lovely.”

After lunch, Gillian would make the most of the glorious weather by walking around the bowling green and the village grounds.

“I would usually go twice around the bowling green and once around the back of the village. I would enjoy looking at the flowers, Ryman has got such beautiful grounds.”

The rest of the time was filled with reading, doing the puzzles provided by Ryman in a weekly magazine and occasional Facetiming her son and her other two grandchildren in Scotland.

“I have done quite a few of those puzzles. I’m a big Sudoku fan – being a maths teacher they’re right up my street!”

With the move into Level 2, Gillian’s top priority was seeing her family again quickly followed by her friends, including her first in-person meeting with her patchworking pals.

And then there was the novelty value of returning to the previously mundane activities such as using the village’s car rental service to visit the supermarket or get a haircut.

“They’re just ordinary things but how wonderful it is to be able to do those things again,” she says with a smile.

Sales advisors Clare and Leanne says 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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