Meet Wendy Bezuidenhout
Not many people can boast of having a family of more than 60 people, seeing them daily, chatting to them, knowing their problems and having a special place in their heart for each one of them. It sounds impossible but Wendy Bezuidenhout (59) has a family like this, and she looks forward to each day with a smile on her face and purpose in her soul.
Wendy is the administrator at Le Domaine Care, a position she has held since late 2016, and, when looking at how her life has unfolded, this is one example of everything turning full circle and falling into place.
She is 100% local, born at St Mary’s Hospital in Mariannhill, attending school in Pinetown and Westville and growing up in Sarnia and Manors. On completing school, Wendy decided on a path of nursing, moving into res and beginning her training at Entabeni Hospital.
“But, I found the night shifts depressing”, said Wendy, “and it was hard going, living, studying and working in the same place, all the time. After two-and-a-half years I walked away, I did not write my finals and am not a qualified nurse”
Wendy worked for a while as a dental assistant and then entered the corporate and commercial world where she worked her way up the ladder. However, her calling to nurse never left her and she always believed that one day, when she was in a position of stability and security, geriatrics was an area she wanted to volunteer and work in. And here Wendy is today, where she imagined she would be, surrounded by and caring for the elderly.
“When nursing, I found working with the elderly so rewarding. They were gracious and appreciative, always sharing stories and giving a person purpose,” she said. “Now, years later, I have that back in my life, here to stay, that flame of passion kept well and truly ignited.”
Wendy’s husband John, is one of the shareholders of Le Domaine Care and he had pleaded with her to come and run the show as the centre needed her strong operational and organisational skills. But it was not until October 2016 that Wendy made the massive step of leaving the corporate world and joining Le Domaine Care. After some adjustment, she now proudly runs a professional and slick establishment.
“My nature is to be hands-on and to keep looking ahead at what needs to be and can be done to take things to the next level, while maintaining the standards and reputation of what we have at the care centre,” she said. “I live on the estate and yes, I have that Monday to Friday job but am my own boss, close at hand, just a phone call away, always ready to look after my special people.”
In her position, Wendy reports to the shareholders, her chief role being to oversee the nursing, housekeeping, marketing, and activities – the whole A to Z of the centre. Along with her registered nursing staff, Wendy focuses much of her efforts on attention to detail and care of the residents.
“What we strive to offer is not just care but a holistic approach, chatting to families, ensuring the residents feel good when they dress every day and treating everyone in our care as if they are our loved ones,” said Wendy. ”It comes down to being a mother to a rather large family.”
For Wendy, the care centre adds quality of life in people’s twilight years. When she looks at what the centre offers and how the residents enjoy life, she wonders why she lives in a house 150 metres away and puts up with the stress of daily life at home. “I could have a room in the centre, with all the comforts and care I need,” she said. “It’s not just a care centre, it’s a home filled with love.”
New friendships and being surrounded by fellow residents are two of the main highlights when living at the care centre. Wendy has seen many residents arrive with lost spirits and a rather forlorn outlook on life, but once they have settled, a spark returns to their eyes and new meaning is planted in their hearts. Their days mean something once more and despite the hardships that Father Time loads on all of them, there is much joy in being able to smile again and talk to someone, just to have a person listening and interested in them.
Activities keep the residents busy and looking forward to things keeps their minds focussed. Wendy is also proud to single out her staff of just more than 60 carers, who build special relationships with the residents. “Special is not enough to describe them. They are so positive, they have endless patience and they have that seed of compassion within them. It’s hard work in this environment, yet they come out champions, still smiling, at the end of every day and night shift,” she said. “I am honoured and blessed to have them.”
The care centre celebrates its 11th year next month (April) and Wendy is rightfully proud of the exemplary reputation they have earned.
As a final piece of advice for families wanting to find a caring home for their aging loved ones, she urges people to compare apples with apples. “Cost is always the major issue and people must be certain they know what a proposed figure covers. It’s no use paying a hefty amount every month and being told there are extra costs for activities, laundry, Wi-Fi, TV and so on,” she said. “Ask endless questions and visit the home, noting security and what goes on. It’s not a decision to be taken lightly.”
Having spent years working hard to earn a living and raising families of their own, your aging loved ones deserve a home that cares for them just as much as you do. In the loving, capable hands of Wendy and her team, there could be no better place than Le Domaine Care.