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When old folk have to move into nursing homes, they usually expect to spend the rest of their days there. But in a highly successful experiment, nine residents of Woy Woy Community Aged Care Nursing Home (50 miles north of Sydney) have just enjoyed a three-day holiday at Nelson Bay, Port Stephens.

The trail-blazing trip, one of the first of its kind in Australia, is expected to become an annual event, and may well encourage hundreds of other nursing homes to arrange similar short vacations for their elderly residents.

Accompanied by six members of the nursing staff, the party, several in wheelchairs, made the hour and a half journey from Woy Woy in a specially-fitted Aged Care bus to O'Carrollyn's, a guest house in a bush setting. Its owners describe it as "a tranquil boutique resort set in five acres of landscaped melaleuca forest... minutes away from beautiful One Mile Beach, Port Stephens." Special facilities are provided for disabled guests.

The visitors occupied five of the resort's seven villas, and spent the next two days quietly enjoying their new surroundings, feeding the native birds and animals, having a barbecue lunch, riding on beach buggies and cruising in a boat looking for dolphins, before making the bus trip back to Woy Woy.

Director of Nursing, Margaret Khan, who supervised arrangements and accompanied the group, was delighted with the way everything went without a hitch.

"Just because some of our residents can't manage to do things by themselves doesn't mean they should be wrapped in cottonwool," she said.



Story first posted October 2004

Copyright 2004

Eric Shackle

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