Aug 13, 2019

Special wheelchairs allow residents to visit the beach

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Margaret, 84, and Richard, 87, thought they would never be able to feel the sea again. [Source: Swn-y-Mor Care Centre]

Specially designed beach wheelchairs are allowing aged care residents to dip their toes in the water for the first time in decades.

A nursing home located on Aberavon Beach in the Welsh city of Swansea has invested in specialist wheelchairs that take residents over the sand, and down to the water’s edge, making the most of the residents seaside home.

Sharon Williams, the manager of Swn-y-mor Care Centre, told HelloCare the chairs were initially hired, but proved to be so popular with residents staff decided to find a way to purchase them.

“Initially we hired them for a week and they loved them, so we set about raising the money to buy our own,” Ms Williams said. 

The owners of the facility agreed to fund match the amount staff were able to raise, and two local businesses chipped in. Local council also agreed to help, purchasing one of the chairs for the home.

Ms Williams said it’s quite hard work pushing the chairs down to the water’s edge, but it’s worth it to see how happy the visit makes the residents.

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Margaret loving her time in the sun and surf! [Source: Swn-y-Mor Care Centre]

“My staff all have extra muscles, but I have sold it to them that I am thinking of their well being and looking after their fitness!” she said.

She added that taking the residents down to the sea would be impossible without the special chairs.

“There is no way we would be able to take them down on the sand in their normal chairs,” she told HelloCare.

The residents get so much out of the experience. 

“I never thought I would be able to do this again,” said one after being taken down to the water’s edge.

 

“Wonderful! Brilliant!” said another.

For some residents, the experience helped them overcome fears.

“I was scared at first, but then proud of myself for doing it,” one said.

For many, It brought back memories of their childhood as a number of residents were brought up on Aberavon Beach, or regularly visited the area.

So, was the water cold?

Ms Williams conceded it was. “A little chilly – but that’s part of the fun!” 

What about Australia?

Beach going is an Australian way of life and is something that most of us take for granted.

Beach wheelchairs are  available in Australia, with some local councils purchasing them to help older people and people with disabilities visit the beach.

For example, the Charles Sturt Council in Adelaide’s west is responsible for 12km of beachfront and has made Henley Beach completely accessible.

It offers an accessible beach mat 24/7, free beach wheelchair and beach walker hire and accessible public toilet and change facility.

Henley beach is one of many accessible beaches around the country. Some others include Mooloolaba Beach in Queensland, Jetty Beach in New South Wales and Koombana Beach in Western Australia.

For a full list of accessible beaches that are rated on a star-rating system, visit www.accessiblebeaches.com

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