Originally published by Whangamatā News written by Jennie Black.
Whether as a village resident of independent living, or in the rooms of residency or in the hospital wing, all the stories differ. Keep in mind this could well be you or your loved ones, who will need the care at the only facility in Whangamata.
Moana House resident Paul Barlow who lives independently in Willson Gardens, has a different scenario again. His wife Daveena is in the hospital wing of Moana House, and was diagnosed with MS in 1979. Paul explains "Daveena has done very well up until the last three years where she has lost all her mobility with her legs, they were living in Coromandel town, it was decided Paul could no longer look after her at home, as he had done for 15 years.
With children having a bach here, it made sense to make the move, they grabbed the last available unit in Willson Gardens on the first day of lock down 2020. The rest home in Coromandel didn't have anywhere near the facilities of Moana House, and it meant they see their family now more than they have in the last 10 years. With the use of a hoist and an electric wheelchair Daveena can spend three days a week with Paul in the unit, returning of course for toiletry needs and to the safety of sta and care at nights.
I suppose the question I had to ask is, how would it be if I couldn't be with my husband after 56 years of marriage? Or how would I feel If I got dementia and had to leave for a city with dementia unit facilities and that would end a marriage living apart in that way. Paul states quite plainly, he doesn't live there by choice, but, he has a classic 30 year old 40-foot boat in the marina, which of late he has no inclination to take out, however he is a keen gardener and still runs many business interests in the Coromandel township. He is not as busy as he would like and bridge is not his game.
When asked how Daveena enjoys her world, just metres from her home with Paul, he said "I think she accepts it, it's not something that she likes, but the staff are fantastic and look after her very well. But perhaps what really bugs Daveena... she was a nurse many years ago and in geriatric care, so she gets very frustrated and on occasion upset. For a very outgoing person, being in the hospital wing can be difficult.
As Paul explains, they have been very fortunate over the years, they travelled extensively internationally, United States, Italy, France, Germany and Britain of course, have lived in various countries with his role in the oil and gas industry. So in a wrap up I asked Paul "does Moana House work well for the both of you?", he said " Yes, well I'm still able to see her 3 days a week, Daveena would dearly love to be living down in the unit with me but we can't do that anymore."
Paul's final comments really hit home with me "it's a nice progression because there may come a time when I will certainly need care, and I know if I get crook, I have access to Moana House".
When asked about the necessity for a dementia unit, "its as clear as day and with an ageing population and with a lot of retired people in Whangamatā, I feel very, very strongly, it shouldn't be just left to Moana House to find the funds. The government should be stepping in here, it would only save them money in the long term."
Paul also said Moana House GM Vivian Blake is a' breath of fresh air', searching for accommodation solutions for staff here, getting nurses is difficult enough, but where do they live? Couldn't agree more with Paul Barlow