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One big happy family


one big happy family
one big happy family
one big happy family

When Eunice Tsai checked her beloved mother into a rest home, they were both in tears.

It was an emotional journey and, with that in mind, the director of Rose Garden Rest Home, together with husband and manager Boon Choo, has recreated the 30-plus-year-old establishment into a family-orientated rest home.

The couple, who have lived in Auckland for 16 years, took over a year ago after the, then named, MorningView Village rest home fell into jeopardy. With a vast background in professional management, they were approached by the former owners for help, with the 40-bed establishment on the brink of being closed down.

“We were actually intending to retire,” laughs Boon.

“But then we came up for a look and found Whangarei to be a really beautiful city,” adds Eunice. “My mother is in a rest home, my father was also until he passed away, and my granny has dementia, so it was all very close to my heart.”

Over the past year, the couple have transformed the rest home by renaming and upgrading the facility, retraining staff, appointing new positions and undergoing ongoing training themselves. Then there’s the family approach.

“This is very important,” emphasises Boon. “We are a small rest home, compared to nationwide franchises. We believe that our staff, residents and ourselves are all like a family. Our residents have been working all their lives and contributing to this country so now they deserve a good quality life in the rest home.”

Adds Eunice: “It’s not just about feeding them and giving them a room to stay – they need more respect. It’s about communication, love and care.”

And the couple’s hard work has paid off: their July Certification Audit by Health Audit NZ came back with zero corrections.

“We are just so pleased with that and proud of our team.”

They attribute some of this to their monthly meetings with the residents.

“For the first six months, the residents had feedback for improvements that they wanted to see,” says Boon. “We listened and made the changes and now for the last few months, they are almost 100 per cent completely happy.”

Some of these changes include the gourmet meals, which comprise venison, when available at the markets, or fresh fish and chips on a Friday. There’s also the weekly calendar full of fun activities like volley balloon, tai chi, sit fit, foot spa and hand pampering, story-telling, bingo and the popular happy hour with live music. Then there’s the former piano tutor resident whose lively music fills the home on a daily basis.

“We encourage our residents to interact with each other and family members come and join in these activities too,” says Eunice, who also takes them on outings in the van to feed the ducks, coffee trips or admire a view.

Residents are also free to come and go independently (some have their own cars) or with family members, so long as they sign in and out.

And the couple’s passionate, hands-on approach is clearly popular with the residents as they walk around greeting their extended family with warm hugs and jokes.

“They actually care about us too – when we’re still here late at night they try and kick us out and tell us to go home for a break,” laughs Eunice.

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