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Written By : JONATHAN BRYCE . For many decades, Pearce Home, located at Butt Street, Suva has opened its doors to assisting the elderly and the needy of this country. It was originally created to help destitute Europeans, but now serves a variety of people as a retirement home.
According to its Matron, Emerly Changlee, there is an essential need for the Pearce Home and the work it does.
“There really is a need for a home for those who are missed. Many of our residents had not married nor had children of their own. There are some who have lived by themselves for a long time and they become lonely, while others have family who are overseas. When they come here for a trial stay, we treat them like they are our own family. We are not an institution, we are a home, and it’s like a home away from their home.” Matron Emerly said when potential residents come to the Pearce Home and give it a trial stay, so many of them do not wish to leave.
For years, the Pearce Home has lived up to very high European standards on which the Home was founded on.
This is shown in the care of their residents especially in the presentation and serving of meals, the cleanliness of the Home and service of the staff.
However, one type of service extends beyond measure; it is the fact that members of the Pearce Home support and help their residents, both when they are alive and even after they have departed from the world.
Matron Emerly said many of their residents request help from the Home to look after their rights and affairs should something unexpected happened to them.
One case was with a late resident named Mrs Chang who requested that if she died, she would have liked to be buried next to her husband in Levuka. After her death, the Home organized transport of her body to Levuka and made the funeral arrangements before laying her to rest next to her husband.
Pearce Home currently holds a full house with about ten residents, each with their own room.
Matron Emerly said that the Pearce Home is run on the pensions of its residents, but said it is barely enough for what the Home needs.
Several board members who run the Pearce Home have been looking for ways to get donations for the Home and even sometimes donate novels and magazines for the Home to sell.
“We have such good leaders in our Board members, whatever the Board can offer, they contribute to us.” said Matron Emerly, “They also try to get donations from big businesses, but we also help out, we sell books and sometimes hold bazaars to help raise money. This is a charitable organization.”
Matron Emerly has served with the Pearce Home for ten years and said the oldest resident in the Home is 95-year-old, Ms Dorothy Davis.
There are some elderly residents who genuinely love the Home and pay to stay in there for $700 a month. This is the case with the sister of one resident who Matron Emerly said has been visiting for a few months and stays at the home.
“They really love it because they see that it really is a home away from home. The needy are the ones who take priority, but if we have a spare room and a visiting person wants to pay to stay with us for a while, we could use the extra money for the Home. We are quite happy to accommodate them.”
For many of the residents, their pensions are what pays for their stay and care.
Matron Emerly claims that the greatest challenge she has faced over the years was the loneliness she had seen with a resident every now and then. “We do our chores and if we see them in their loneliness, we stop our chores and try to be there for them. We are one big family and we are always there for them when they need us. Sometimes the residents have problems with each other now and then, but at the end of the day, we hug and we know we are family.”
Pearce Home has kept its doors open throughout the years and had welcomed many church groups, youth groups and even visits from prisons.
According to Matron Emerly, the prisoners who visited the Home were unexpectedly greeted with such a warm and loving reception from the residents that it left them with tears in their eyes.
Matron Emerly wished to break down the negative stereotype that sending an elderly person to live at a residential home was a bad thing. She was proud of the fact that people in Fiji always took care of their elderly relatives and community members, but outlined the positive aspects of have an establishment like the Pearce Home.
“Again, we are a home, not an institution. We have very qualified people to help and take care of the residents and we are accountable to you, the resident’s families and to the government. What happens if the family members who take care of these people go overseas? When they send over money to help take care of their grandmother or grandfather, how do they know, it will get to them. We here at the Pearce Home have high quality standards in caring for our residents and in accountability. If they become residents of Pearce Home, when you promise a sum of money for them, we make it our duty to make sure it gets to your family residents.”
To sum up her own views on Pearce Home and the work it does, Matron Emerly said “Pearce Home is a place that is built on a foundation of love. God’s love is everywhere and we feel it here.”