When she first started in her role as a sales advisor at Evelyn Page Retirement Village, Steph Griffin admits she got a bit of a kick out of seeing all the confused expressions she prompted from residents.
“They would do a double take because they knew they recognised me but I wasn’t wearing my uniform and I was out of context,” she laughs.
That’s because Steph worked at the pharmacy in Orewa for more than 20 years so a good number of the residents and their relatives know her from there.
It made her settling in process go that much more smoothly, she says.
“It’s lovely. Because a lot of my former customers live or visit here, it’s been a nice continuation and gives that familiarity – for both them and for me!”
And that’s not all that’s familiar.
Her fellow sales advisor, Jo Seed, was a former colleague at the pharmacy when their children were at pre-school and then years later the pair used to see each other at the sideline when their sons were both in the same basketball rep team.
“I didn’t tell her I’d applied for the job though, I wanted to make sure I got the job because I was right for the role,” she says.
Just a few weeks into her new role, life at the village changed drastically due to the effects of Covid-19.
All the usual fun village activities and events were put on hold as the nation went into lockdown.
Only essential visitors to the village were allowed in and that was after being stopped at a checkpoint to sign a declaration of health and have a temperature check.
Extra manpower was brought in to help with the increased number of deliveries to residents who could no longer go out shopping at the supermarket. Even their Happy Hour goodies were brought to their doors in order to prevent any potential spread of infection.
For Steph, it was evidence of what she already knew having explored retirement options for a family member in the past.
“It’s been reassuring for people to know that the village put residents’ safety before everything,” she says.
“For our residents I can see why it gives them peace of mind knowing that they’re coming to a company that puts such an emphasis on kindness and care.”
The bonds between staff and residents have also become stronger through the lockdown experience.
“It’s a lovely, lovely community. Everyone has worked so hard and the residents have really appreciated everything that Ryman has done for them. It’s just really emphasised what a nice culture it is here where both staff and residents care for one another.”
With the nation now in Level 1 and village life returning back to normal, Steph is looking forward to resuming her favourite aspect of the job – meeting the people.
“It’s all about relationship building and it’s so varied. Often we’re the first point of contact for the village and I just love being able to help people at such a pivotal point in their lives.”
Steph, who is mum to a grown up son and daughter, also lives locally, and says she feels very lucky to live and work in the coastal community.
In her spare time she loves spending time with her family, and enjoying the beautiful outdoors, especially if there is a boat or a beach involved!
While life in Orewa is pretty much perfection, Steph still hopes to one day realise her dream of visiting Europe for the first time, having had to put her plans for a visit this year on hold.
“I went to the David Hartnell presentation here at the village in February and I thought what have I been doing with my life?!
“I’ve always wanted to see Paris, London and Rome, I can’t wait to go!
“But this experience has made me appreciate all the new experiences I’ve got to look forward to right here in the village.”