JUDE BARBACK visits Malyon House in Mount Maunganui shortly after the family-owned rest home celebrated its
Malyon House manager Amy Munro is excited to get my call. Having recently cited various INsite articles as part of her studies for her postgraduate diploma in health management, she was pleased to have her rest home featured among its pages.
I say ‘her rest home’ intentionally, as it belongs to Amy’s family. Her parents David and Cecily Munro own Malyon House and Amy, a registered nurse, has this year taken the reins as its facility manager. Amy says she enjoys sharing the home’s history with prospective residents.
It’s a story worth sharing. Cecily Munro, also an RN, worked at Mary Shapley Rest Home in Whakatane as clinical manager. Her ambition to own and operate her own rest home led her and her husband to purchase Malyon House, a 12-bed facility on Hinau Street, Mount Maunganui, in 1996.
In 1999 the business expanded to Te Puke, establishing a branch of Malyon House there; this was sold in recent years to CHT. Meanwhile, the Mount Maunganui rest home grew to 18 beds before the need for further expansion required them to look for a new site. Malyon House was relocated to a larger facility on nearby Heath Street in 2007. A major expansion and renovation project over 2011 and 2012 saw the home grow from 29 beds to the 57 beds it is today.
Of these 57 beds, eight are officially resthome-level beds, while the others swing to deliver hospital-level care. The majority of rooms have ensuites; 15 have shared bathrooms.
“People love the fact that Malyon House is family-owned,” says Amy. She thinks the fact that they are one of the few non-corporate facilities offering hospital-level care counts for a lot.
They rarely have vacancies and don’t need to advertise, such is the strength of Malyon’s good name.
The turnout they had at the home’s recent 20-year anniversary celebration is testimony to its popularity within the community. Residents, their families, local press and over 100 people from the community all came to honour the occasion at two celebratory afternoon teas held at Malyon House.
The celebrations also recognised two long-standing staff members – senior carer Fran Humbke, who has been with Malyon House since before the Munros acquired it, and Monette Burns, who had been Malyon’s facility manager for the past 20 years. Monette worked with Cecily Munro at Mary Shapley in Whakatane.
“We’re not letting Monette go!” says Amy. She is grateful for Monette’s support as she transitions into the manager role. Meanwhile, Monette has pared back her hours to become a part-time education manager. She hints at retirement, but I sense this new arrangement is working well for now.
Staff seem to be very important at Malyon House. They have 75 employees and a low staff turnover. Again, Amy attributes this to being privately owned. Things like giving staff members their birthdays off, a staff Facebook page and a general positive working environment all go a long way with employees.
“We have an amazing team,” says Amy. “They don’t think twice about volunteering to work extra shifts if needed.”
Malyon House is also part of the WorkWell initiative, which requires businesses to select a number of health-related focus areas for their staff. Malyon’s efforts at becoming smokefree and physically active (staff members participated in group walks to the top of the Mount and in Baywave’s ‘Swim a k a day in May’ challenge) and meeting their other goals saw them achieve gold accreditation for their efforts.
Like virtually every other rest home in the country, Amy wishes they could pay their staff more.
“We tell our staff that what we get, we pass on to them. It’s just not enough,” she says.
Malyon’s reach also extends to the community through its meals on wheels service. Monette says that while it isn’t the most lucrative of activities, it is a good way of engaging with people in their own homes who might require residential care one day.
On my tour of Malyon House I meet various staff members and residents, including a woman who has lived in Mount Maunganui for over 50 years. From her room she has a view directly facing the Mount.
I meet Donna, the diversional therapist. Although she is technically on sick leave, she has come in today especially to help with a knitting project that has seen residents knit tiny baby clothes and blankets for the Special Care Baby Units at Tauranga and Whakatane hospitals. Donna describes how this project – and others like it – has been led by a volunteer.
Volunteers play an important role at Malyon, but I sense there is a strong ethos among the residents and staff for ‘giving back’ too. The SCBU knitwear is one example, and Amy describes how the residents make things like lemon honey to sell as charity fundraisers.
Thursday Bingo rates highly on the activity calendar, which is delivered to each resident every month. So too does the exercise class ‘Too fit to sit’, which is run three times a week by the home’s physio and activities team. They also enjoy their van drives out to the new subdivisions of Tauranga or simply to the beach for an ice cream.
I feel that Malyon House exemplifies the role that rest homes play in our society – how they interface with our communities, appreciate their surroundings and add to the colour and vibrancy of Kiwi culture.
I’m pleased to think they enjoyed a lovely celebration for their 20-year anniversary. The year 2036 sounds an absurdly long time from now, but I have little doubt that Malyon House will be celebrating another 20 good years in due course.
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