It’s no secret that the William Sanders Retirement Village in Devonport has been a topical project even when it was a glint in Mr Ryman’s eye. There were those who were looking forward to it and there were those who were not. It consumed column centimetres in local publications and comments on social media. This writer was always a fan. I had seen the lifestyle that these type of villages had given family members over many years, and in the past decade my mother has loved the lifestyle she leads in her village near Takapuna. I reckon William Sanders Village was much-needed for Devonport. It was good that Ryman prevailed, and a couple of years on their wonderful William Sanders Retirement Village is very much part of the community. When completed it will also provide 120 jobs for local people which is great for the Devonport peninsula.
I was wandering past William Sanders Village one day while exercising during lockdown and got talking to a gentleman of a similar age to me and he just happened to have a mother living at the village. I quizzed him on it and he said she absolutely loved it. He raved about it. His mum was enjoying the lifestyle as much as mine was in her village. So I decided to go along and find out more about William Sanders Retirement Village. In mid-July it was time to pay a visit and talk to manager Murray Bain.
AIDAN BENNETT: Murray, how long have you been the manager at William Sanders Retirement Village? Were you here through the start-up phase?
MB: I have been with the William Sanders Retirement Village and Ryman Healthcare since April 2019. The period from April to now has been focused on welcoming and supporting our residents in their brand new independent apartments.
AB: Do you have a background working in this sector?
MB: Working for Ryman Healthcare is a career change for me. My previous career was in tertiary vocational education. I was looking to work in a field where my skills were transferable and the company values aligned to my own. The purpose of the company had to be meaningful. Ryman Healthcare well and truly met those criteria and I am loving it.
AB: When did Ryman acquire the site and when was the first sod of soil turned on the site?
MB: The site was acquired back in 2014 – it was formerly a Navy housing development. Work began in late 2017.
AB: How many people live here now and how many people will there be at the completion?
MB: We currently have 54 Apartments that accommodate 70 residents. We are expecting to have a total to 485 to 500 residents once everything is complete.
AB: When will the village be fully completed?
MB: We do not have a firm date in mind.
AB: What are the different living options in the village?
MB: The village will offer independent apartment living where residents are fully independent while enjoying the benefits of living in the Ryman community. Serviced apartment living provides the options of higher levels of care whilst retaining the independence of apartment living. More concentrated levels of care that we provide are rest home, hospital and special care.
AB: What facilities/amenities do you have here now and what are still to come?
MB: At the moment our existing facilities are limited to our independent apartment living. Services will be phased in progressively from the start of October to include a swimming pool, hairdressing salon, beauty salon, Triple A activities, van outings, billiards room, men’s shed, crafts centre, movie theatre, activities room, dining rooms, activities room, café, e-taxi, village host and bowling greens.
AB: You guys must be thrilled with how the village has fitted into the area? There was a bit of resistance before it was built but locals seem to love it now. I only hear good stuff.
MB: I am aware that there was some resistance at the start of the project. However my experience with our local community has been very pleasant. We work hard to be good citizens and we are looking forward to more community involvement as the village develops.
AB: What have the challenges been since you started in the role?
MB: For me personally, it has been the challenge of coming up to speed with the operations, procedures and expectations that Ryman have in place to achieve the purpose of ‘good enough for mum and dad’. Ryman certainly knows how to ensure that consistent levels of excellence in service levels and care are delivered.
AB: What do your residents love about living here?
MB: Our residents are ‘family’. Our team know that it is a privilege to be able to work in their homes and we work hard to respect that opportunity and we do everything in our control to make their experience the best we can make it. We do have fabulous residents.
AB: Why should people come and live here and what is the availability at this stage?
MB: Companionship, security, progressions of care and a fantastic living environment. Living at the William Sanders Retirement Village will provide all of the above.
AB: Complete the following. I love leading the William Sanders Retirement Village....
MB: ....because we have a team who are challenged to fulfilling the Ryman purpose of “Good enough for mum and dad”. This team will deliver on that promise.
Note: The retirement village takes the name of William Edward Sanders (Lieutenant commander) who was the only member of New Zealand’s naval personnel to ever receive a Victoria Cross. He was awarded this after his command, the HMS Prize, a three-masted schooner operating as a “Q” or “Mystery” ship was involved in a showdown with a German U-boat on 30th April 1917. Sanders Avenue in Takapuna also takes his name. William Sanders and his family lived locally and he went to Takapuna School. He died aged just 34 in August 1917 when HMS Prize was torpedoed and sunk by another German U-boat and all lives were lost.