New rest home owner sees plenty to be positive about

New owner/manager Maree Burley reckons the vital signs are good for Raglan Hospital & Rest Home despite the odd setback in recent times.

“It’s got good bones,” she told the Chronicle a week into running the aged care facility that started out as the town’s maternity hospital back in the 1950s.

The flow of the building, its location on Manukau Road and the sea view are also great, Maree enthuses. She’s impressed too by the “amazing” local staff who, she says, need to be kept on long-term and supplemented in key areas.

Maree has taken over a facility which recently underwent a $1.4 million extension overseen by former owner John Song.

But despite the positives the 55-year-old acknowledges there are certain things she wants “to get back to where they need to be”.

That means an overhaul in terms of painting, plastering and cleaning – which is already under way – and also taking a close look at the “delivery” of services within the hospital and rest home so it works well for the community.

The former registered nurse – who’s managed “100-bedders” before – rattles off those services she wants to improve, from palliative and respite care to the availability of GP beds for recovery from acute illness and the supply of meals on wheels.

She points out the facility caters for not only up to 36 aged care residents – including in rooms for married couples – but also under-65s who may have a permanent disability or are on ACC.

“I’m extremely flexible and willing to go outside the square,” she says. So if there’s a need for a service that may not be funded, she’ll try to find a way to make it happen.     

Maree says to run her own rest home has been a long-held dream. “And contrary to popular opinion it’s not all about making money, it’s about making a difference to vulnerable people.”

She sees the former trust hospital as a jewel in the Raglan community “but also a bit of a rough diamond that needs polishing”.

Maree’s confident her nursing plus managerial experience – first with Healthcare NZ but most recently with pharmaceutical company Pharmaco NZ – will stand her in good stead.

She’s happy to commute from the family farmlet in Ohaupo for now, saying it’s “good planning and de-planning time”, and is counting on partner and New Zealand motor-racing legend Graeme Lawrence to handle any maintenance jobs required around the facility.

First thing this week Maree was working with a consultant around her management of services, while expecting a chef in at some stage for kitchen consultancy involving menus and training. Computerising the medication system and care planning was also an early priority.

But when the Chronicle visited she had her hands full with two new kittens from animal rescue in Hamilton which were making “a great impact” on residents.

Getting a therapy dog is next on the list, she says.

There are also plans for an official morning tea in a few weeks, with a blessing and a karakia.  “It’s important, moving forward, to have a nice fresh page.”

Edith Symes