Thursday, 16 July 2020


The importance of Social Services in Zoe Cutfield’s life

The importance of Social Services in Zoe Cutfield’s life

Local artist, Zoe Cutfield will be turning 90 this year. For the past 40 years she’s called Whitianga home. Most of her time in Mercury Bay she’s been busy - getting her shop, Zoe’s Gallery (now Mosaic Gallery) off the ground, painting and creating and being a mother and wife.

In 2007 Zoe suffered from bad health and with no family members residing locally, Yvette Simpson, Whitianga Social Services’ support worker for the elderly, entered the picture. This story is an example of the tremendous work Yvette does with many of the older people in our community.

One of Zoe’s friends alerted Social Services that she wasn’t in a good state. Yvette paid Zoe a visit and found a lady in desperate need of a knee operation, but stuck on the hospital waiting list. Yvette immediately arranged for Zoe, who’s also a diabetic, to access a disability allowance and other entitlements and advocated for her to move up the waiting list. It worked and soon Zoe underwent the first of four successful knee operations. Yvette stayed in touch with Zoe after the operations, ensuring she was able to stay well at home.

In 2009, two years after Yvette first became involved in Zoe’s life, Zoe’s knee was playing up again and Yvette arranged some physiotherapy. That was followed with a really bad episode of shingles behind the eyes, forcing Zoe to spend time in Whitianga Continuing Care. After six weeks in Continuing Care, Zoe was ready to go home and Yvette made sure she had all the support she needed to be safe and well-looked after.

In 2011 Zoe had a bad fall. Yvette arranged for an occupational therapist to assist Zoe through her recovery. It was also a lonely time for Zoe and Yvette asked the Mercury Bay Lionesses what they could do to help. As a result, a local Lioness started to visit Zoe every Monday afternoon. These visits are still continuing, the Lioness and Zoe using the time to paint together.

In 2012 Zoe suffered an episode related to her diabetes. Yvette initially responded by regularly checking that Zoe would take her insulin. She later involved a specialist diabetic nurse and introduced Zoe to the Mercury Bay Health Support Group.

Last year Yvette arranged through the formal DHB funded Needs Assessment Service a home help person to visit Zoe every morning and afternoon to assist her with her medication and personal care needs.

And in between, Yvette was, and still is, happy to arrange grocery shopping for Zoe, to arrange for the plumber or electrician to come out to Zoe’s place when needed, to take Zoe to the dentist, doctor and optometrists and to help Zoe look after Jimmy, her cat.

In Zoe’s words, "I very, very much like having Yvette around."

Zoe is one of many older members of our community Yvette looks after. "I know I make a difference to these people’s lives," said Yvette. "Seeing Zoe at nearly 90-years-old still challenging herself to create fabulously unique art pieces is so inspiring, it makes my heart sing."

Older people needing support, advice or information, or those concerned about an older person, are welcome to contact Whitianga Social Services at
2 Cook Drive or telephone 866 4476.


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