Just before the Prime Minister announced the country was going into noho rāhui / lockdown, Stan had driven to WesleyCare, where his wife Shirley resided. He parked up below her window and displayed his hand painted sign. It was an act captured on camera and shared with the world on the Christchurch Methodist Mission’s Facebook page.
Now at alert level one, the married couple of 60 years have been able to reunite in person – but still with some restrictions.
“When I appeared in her room Shirley expected me to rush to her and hug her but I had to tell her I couldn’t.”
Given visitation rules and regulations, Stan had to keep his distance and explain to Shirley that he couldn’t come in for a hug. He did manage to sneak in a little kiss though!
It marked the end of an awfully tough lockdown for Stan.
“It wasn’t easy but the hardest thing was rattling round here all by myself and knowing Shirley was less than five minutes drive down the road.”
Throughout the noho rāhui, Stan worried about what Shirley would think about the fact visits by her children, grandchildren, husband and friends had all dried up.
“Over the phone I asked her to remember the time when we all had to stay at home as kids due to the measles pandemic, and then I said ‘this is what it’s like now but it’s not only the kids, it’s everybody and we’ve all got to stay home’.”
Shirley’s health declined during lockdown and she was moved to a new home in a dementia unit.
“Dementia is a shocking thing and all I wanted to do was keep things alive with Shirley.”
At level three, and while Shirley was still at WesleyCare, Stan had been able to park up outside the window of his wife’s new room.
“I was allowed to go in and park myself up on my picnic chair in the carpark and open my sandwiches and see if she approved of the filling inside,” says Stan.
Stan said he received friendly calls of support from staff and passers-by, who saw him parked up and who enquired about what he was doing.
“The other people in the neighboring rooms, they got the benefit of it too.”
Prior to Shirley’s admission to WesleyCare, and after her diagnoses, Stan had looked after his wife at home for four years. He was supported by his three adult children and their partners.
He had only praise for his wife’s carers.
“The level of care, respect and treatment staff at WesleyCare and the new Camellia Court Rest Home have shown to Shirley, me and our kids has been amazing.”
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