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COVID-19 move to 'Disneyland' village

Written by Margot Taylor
on October 27, 2020

When Dana May looks at Nellie Melba Retirement Village, she sees it through the eyes of a daughter of a resident and a caregiver.

Dana’s father Len Thomas moved into a two-bedroom apartment during the first COVID-19 lockdown, and Dana is quick to sum the village up.

“It’s Disneyland for older people,” she says.


“Disneyland is my favourite place on earth and it’s because it’s so friendly and it’s so nice and it’s so loving, and Nellie Melba is just like that.”

Because Len moved in during COVID-19 restrictions, he was required to complete 14 days quarantine in his apartment.

While this meant Dana and Len’s other family were unable to visit him immediately, the precaution filled the family with confidence, Dana says.

“One of the things that was great peace of mind for me is as soon as COVID-19 numbers in Melbourne went up again the village went straight back into lockdown,” she says.

“Ryman are proactive, rather than reactive, everything is in place before it is needed.

“Ryman was so rapid with their response I had no second thoughts, no qualms about it, nothing.

“And the village are organising Zoom calls. Dad is actually more social now than he has been in 50 years.”

As a special education teacher, Dana says one of the most important things the village offers her father is the ability for him to retain his independence as he gets older.

“I work in the disability sector and so my life is about helping people to be as independent as they can be, and I couldn’t be happier because dad has got more independence and freedom now,” Dana says.

At the village Len has access to amenities including a bowling green, cinema, indoor pool, and higher levels of care, as well as being able to remain living within the community he has spent the past 30 years in.

“For years dad has gone to the coffee shop at Brandon Park each day. He will now be able to continue to have that daily enjoyment and independence for years.”

And while Len has not been able to enjoy the two-minute stroll from the village to the coffee shop yet due to COVID-19, Dana says he is safer and more socially connected.

“We are very, very reassured Dad is in the best place.

“I think you can thank staff right from the top to the bottom - particularly sales advisor Liane Kirwan - for how professional, how kind, how welcoming, how understanding they’ve been with Dad, and with all of us.”

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