Mallee devotion sees ocean dreams come true

Category: Rural, remote, very remote

Rural Northwest Health
Hopetoun Nursing Home
Hopetoun Hostel

Rural Northwest Health’s dedicated lifestyle took high care residents on holidays to Swan Hill in 2014 and the beach in 2015. It’s proof that life’s special moments can still be enjoyed despite living in aged care – including dipping your wheelchair-bound feet in the sea water once more. The program was in response to a resident/relative survey where residents requested more outings and a real holiday.

Plans began in 2013 to fulfil residents’ dreams of going on a holiday. The high care residents live in a 24-bed residence in a remote Mallee town - population 250. The residence is in a classified remote area 4.

Hours of planning went in to a maiden trip to Swan Hill with discussion on its duration, suitable accommodation and how many residents wanted, and were able to go. Staff numbers, transport arrangements and suitable staff designation also needed consideration and there needed to be a nearby doctor who would agree to see the residents if they became unwell.

The holiday was a big success and the only complaint from everyone was that it wasn’t long enough. The holidays gave residents something to which they could look forward to.

Evaluations of the first holiday ensured Ocean Grove was an even bigger success.

The wheelchair-bound resident who was able to dip her toes in the ocean once more, passed away peacefully a month later and was still smiling about the ocean in her final days.

A wife accompanied her husband and they were able to share a bed again. A daughter accompanied her mother for the entire holiday, and other residents had visitors from friends and family that had moved down to the coast from the Mallee.

After evaluation of the Ocean Grove trip, minor adjustments are being implemented for 2016. The trips have the full support of our CEO and board of management. Quantitative Data showed all residents remained well in the months pre and post- holiday.

Pre and post holidays qualitative data was collected from residents, staff and family. Comments from residents, staff and families interviewed included: “I enjoyed the opportunity and loved experiencing the sounds and smells of the sea once more.” A resident’s wife escorting her husband said she never thought she would be able to holiday with him again. “It was just a wonderful holiday and I wondered what jobs the staff might have for me but they didn’t want me to do anything. They just wanted me to enjoy the trip with my husband.”

For more information on this program, contact Wendy Walters, email: or phone: 0418 338 557.