This story was first published by Whangamata News writer Jennie Black.
Meeting with Sue Vickers was an absolute delight. Not only do her looks defy her age, but her knowledge and life-learnings were even more moving for me. Recently I lost my Mum, and meeting Sue reminded me how lucky her daughter is to have her so close.
Sue at 92-years-old, lives at Moana House and her daughter Kay Hayes has worked in the laundry there for the last 14 years. She has been a resident for the last three and a half years. Sue tells me she used to come up to the hospital wing here with a bad heart and kidney problems and claims she 'was a bit of a disaster'. "I just cope with it, they are very good here and get me on the right pills and things, I know the other day I over-did it.
We have some hens here at Moana House and a seagull got in and I tried to get it out. I was a bit of a mug, and I had an angina attack". Well, honestly, what a wonderful lady. Sue also tends three raised garden beds and I can tell you they made mine cower in comparison. "I'm 92, but I think I'm 29!" Sue says. "I found I couldn't live in my home in Beverly Terrace anymore, I had caregivers, but the care of my house and being in hospital was too much."
Kay had put her name down and a room was available, her daughter said the room was nice and – even though completely out of the blue – Sue thought about it. "I had already had a fall, I can't drive the car with my heart problems", so after 30 years in her home and husband passing 14 years ago, she said "right-o. I came here". "I like it very much, my little room doesn't worry me, I love company but I'm a bit of a loner". Sue does a lot of hand-craft. She has an incredible hobby with mosaics, with tiny little dots that click in to make a picture – each can take three months! Sue says
"I am social, I talk to everyone here. The sad part is that of the 26 residents in my area, 18 have dementia here in my wing, which to me is quite sad, because it's meant to be a rest home. I've made some good friends, they know me, but they don’t know me, I'll talk to anybody, the trouble is we have to have accommodation for staff. It absolutely annoys me."
These residents need to be in a dementia place with caregivers who know what they need, they are really good, the girls here... they really try". "I'm lucky with 12 grandchildren and five great grandchildren, who are all very close and ring me up." Think about that. Sue didn't want to say how very short-staffed it is at Moana House, it's difficult with the little things. "I think it will get better once we get more help". Sue said
"it's so hard because so many people don’t know Moana House is here... until they need it. "You have to have the things you love with you – this is my home."
I couldn't help thinking Sue makes the best of her room, but I can see the wallpaper is weary, the paint needs work – with the fundraising plans coming up, the refurbishment and expansion is essential.