A "very anxious time for everyone" is how Moana House manager Anne Watts describes being apart from your loved one during lockdown.

However, she says the resident family at Moana House are being amazingly resilient after the first week of no physical contact with loved ones and without the regular entertainment provided by many volunteers who visit.

"The greatest loss at the moment is the loss of contact. That is horrible for residents," Watts says.

Visiting continued until Monday last week, then dropped to one adult per 24 hours and now none.

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"So suddenly, they have got no physical contact with their loved one.

"We are working out ways for everyone to keep in contact with families and appreciate that many will only have phone contact available," Watts says.

A regular newsletter is being sent to all family of residents to keep them in the loop with the initiatives being taken to keep everyone healthy and to provide news and photos of how they are coping.

Lounges and dining rooms are set up so there is at least a metre between the residents and residents can still walk in the gardens provided they maintain social distancing.

 This time a year ago residents of Willson Gardens and Moana House could sit outside and enjoy the Repco Beach Hop. Photo / Brian Pittams
This time a year ago residents of Willson Gardens and Moana House could sit outside and enjoy the Repco Beach Hop. Photo / Brian Pittams

People can still telephone and Moana House is hoping to use video technology in the form of Skype or Zoom to help families connect face to face.

Watts said a system ensuring close relatives could maintain regular contact with their loved one in aged care was "so important" for the welfare of residents.

Those in palliative care - and their closest loved one - were given a reprieve last week when a directive from the Ministry of Health gave the ability for one person to visit those who are in the dying hours of their lives.

World War II veteran Brant Robinson, 102, is among those adjusting to life without regular visits.

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He and fellow veterans Roy Brookes and Fred Amess, a D-Day veteran also of Whangamatā, are celebrated special guests at Anzac ceremonies locally but like all veterans, Robinson won't be able to enjoy being in the parade this year .

Robinson's son, John Robinson, says he was only able to phone his dad to keep in touch. "He's still going on his little daily walks but not much else as all the daily activities have stopped as the people who used to come to take the activities are under lockdown too.

"He said 'We don't even have the van rides', although dad can see why this is not allowed.

"His big news was that Moana House have set up the 2 metre rule in the lounge and at dining time, and he was happy to explain to me the changes and how that is now working."

Robinson's daughter-in-law, Lynne, is among the many volunteers who usually visit to entertain residents and is unable to play ukelele or piano at Moana House now.


In neighbouring Willson Gardens residents are having to accommodate doing things differently.

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As they are all over 70, they need to stay in their bubble. No going out in the
car for a drive but they do have plenty of safe grounds to walk around as long as the 2
metre rule is maintained.

Watts says getting food is important and New World Whangamata had put a system
in place through Moana House: "The staff there need a big bouquet".

For the latest advice, information and resources, go to health.govt.nz/covid-19 or covid19.govt.nz