Wyndham and Districts Community Rest Home
Everything’s coming up roses
Business View Oceania interviews Annette Sinclair, Nurse Manager at Wyndham & Districts Community Rest Home, for our focus on NZ Aged Care & Retirement Villages
In the spring, a sea of yellow daffodils and hundreds of tulips adorn the landscape… in summer, the scent of roses accompanied by picture perfect shrubbery and trees is simply delightful. Welcome to the award-winning Wyndham and Districts Community Rest Home, where residents are part of the family and everyday living is filled with activity, compassion and joy. Located in scenic rural Southland, Wyndham & Districts Community Rest Home Inc. is a 23-bed residential care home run as a registered charity and overseen by a volunteer board of local business people. The community is incredibly proud of its Home – with good reason. The facility has earned a reputation for aged care excellence and rural hospitality; providing residents with the highest standard of care in a warm, friendly environment with the assurance of privacy, comfort and dignity.
Annette Sinclair, Nurse Manager at the Wyndham and Districts Community Rest Home, reports on the backstory: “Twenty-one years ago, when the Home was in danger of closing, the community rallied around and raised the funds to buy the facility. The building was originally a maternity home, then the Southland hospital passed it on to Presbyterian Support who turned it into a rest home facility. But over time, the rest home was struggling, so they decided it would need to close. That’s when, within weeks, the community had a meeting and they ultimately raised a huge amount of money just from donations, to buy the facility and meet the initial running costs. That was in October 1998. There were only five residents living in the rest home at the time, but that number was more than doubled within a few years. Then, in 2004, the board started planning for a big renovation. They applied for, and received, grants and loans which resulted in the addition of extra wings and brings us up to the 23-bed facility we have now.”
The Home is situated in a good-sized rural catchment area. The next nearest rest home is a 20-minute drive away. All 23 beds are rest home level care with the ability to transition one to hospital level, as per the DHB contract so that if a resident becomes unwell, or end of life, they can remain in the facility for that time. The Home provides rest home level care rather than hospital level care because there isn’t a Registered Nurse onsite 24/7. The Home though does have 24 hour on call RN cover. Sinclair is an RN and is on call all through the week, while other RNs in the community are on call over the weekend, if required.
As a small, not-for-profit organisation, the Home has always enjoyed huge support from local service organizations, along with a large number of volunteers. Imagine the thrill for the entire community, when their beloved Wyndham and Districts Community Rest Home was announced as the winner of both the Excellence in Care Invacare Small Operator Award and the Excellence in Care Supreme Award at the 2018 New Zealand Aged Care Association National Conference! Sinclair admits, “It was overwhelming to be recognized like that and it’s done such amazing things for the community. Even though we’re a small home, it doesn’t mean we’re small in our actions. We embrace our uniqueness and we face our challenges and find ways to make positive changes for our Resident’s because this is our residents’ home and it’s a privilege to be part of it.” Sinclair’s submission to the awards committee was based around the Home’s philosophy of inspiring each other to live life to the fullest. She explains, “Over the past five years, since I was appointed Manager, we have gone from a two year to a four year Ministry Certification with six continuous improvements, which are like gold stars in the industry. It’s all the result of team work – we have an awesome team who have all worked really hard. I want to give a special shoutout here to our Office Administrator Carolyn, who is such an integral part of our rest home.”
The Home’s mission to serve the community is focused on the importance of providing high standards of care, every day, in a small, friendly environment. “We do get many compliments,” says Sinclair. “People come in and say that the environment is very welcoming and they realise that residents aren’t just a number. The community is actively involved. We are fortunate to have an amazing volunteer overseeing all our gardens, with the support of others and residents and a dedicated group called ‘the Garden Fairies’. They propagate plants and they’ve got a nursery going that they sell the plants and all the profits come back to the home for garden projects, whether its buying more plants, garden seats, building raised gardens or adding another tunnel house. Now we have three big tunnel houses, lovely raised gardens, and veggie and flower gardens.”
When the facility was first taken over 21 years ago, a group called Friends of the Home was formed and they’ve been busy all this time. Since the Home is supplied with fruit from the community and does their own bottling and preserving, there are designated days when the ‘Friends’ come in and spend several hours with the residents preparing preserves, which are either put down in the freezer or bottled by the kitchen staff to be enjoyed all year long. The extras from our extensive gardens are also sold along with baking from volunteers at community events. Over the years, the money raised has helped pay for loungers, bookcases and equipment that would not have been affordable, otherwise.
Sinclair notes, “We only have two beds in the rest home now that are not electric, thanks to those extra funds and grants I’ve applied for over the past five years. A grant also paid for a sit-to-stand hoist to assist with manoeuvring people when they can’t stand. This helps both the residents and my staff. I have 25 to 28 staff members, including kitchen, housekeeping, carers, RNs, and my administrator and I value every one of them. Some of them are part-time permanent, some are casual, but it’s really important to look after all of them because it can be an emotional place to work and they go through everything alongside our Residents and their families.”
During school holidays, children love coming into the Home. They mix in and play games with the residents and share their time. One very passionate eleven-year-old boy put in an astounding 78 hours – volunteering every night after school, assisting with serving afternoon tea, meals and talking to the residents. He also did his own fundraisers and donated a substantial amount of money to the rest home for our Residents. As for technology, who says the elderly are challenged? As Sinclair recounts, “When I came here, the ASB Bank presented us with five laptops that they were no longer using. At the time, we got students from the local secondary school, Menzies College, to come and work with our residents. They taught them to play computer games, and how to email so they could contact family overseas. That introduction of technology was just great. We have one gentleman who is 102 that still has his computer and works with it all the time.”
The Home has recently purchased a second van with a wheelchair lift in it, so now they can take some residents, who are better off in a wheelchair for activities, out for a drive. That was made possible by money raised at Gala Days and through funds from the community. On Sinclair’s wish list for the future would be “building of an extension to the Home and a big conservatory, because down in Southland there are constraints with weather. We have beautiful green grass but we do have a good amount of rain. The other thing on the wish list would be to incorporate a couple of standalone units right here on the property, for those people that can still manage to live in a wee unit but have the support of a rest home next door, whether it be for meals or health issues.”
Unfortunately, small rest homes throughout New Zealand are struggling with increased financial constraints and expectations. And many have closed. Sinclair acknowledges, “Our residents are more acute than they were 10 years ago because they’re coming in later in life. It’s lovely for people to stay in their homes but a lot of them don’t want to, they really want to come into the home. We believe it’s all about looking at people holistically, for their benefit. Our ongoing goal is to continue to have full occupancy here. To continue the best care for the health and wellbeing of our residents. We are so blessed to be in this wonderful rural community.”
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AT A GLANCE
Wyndham and Districts Community Rest Home
What: Community-based, not-for-profit residential care home
Where: Rural Wyndham, Southland, New Zealand