Life’s beach for Bundy aged care residents

When they can’t visit the beach, residents of one Bundaberg aged care community have the ocean brought to them.

Carinity Kepnock Grove aged care staff have devised innovative ways for seniors to experience the seaside – from the comfort of their home.

Carinity Diversional Therapist, Danielle Gibbs, said one of the popular activities is ‘beach combing’, a sensory experience where residents sift through a miniature beach display to find hidden objects.


Carinity Kepnock Grove aged care resident Maureen Irwin with items collected during a beach combing sensory activity
Carinity Kepnock Grove resident Maureen Irwin with items collected during a beach combing sensory activity at the Bundaberg aged care community.

“The activity involves residents sifting through sand and water to find a variety of items that can be found at the beach, such as different seashells, plants, rocks, and sea animals. They also look for buried treasures like necklaces, bracelets, and rings,” Danielle said.

“I thought it would be a great activity for residents to do as many of them grew up around our beaches. The reaction from residents was great; they were keen to be involved.”

Danielle said sensory activities such as beach combing have therapeutic benefits for older seniors, particularly people living with dementia.

“Often, people living with dementia can lose the connections they have around them, so it is important to provide activities that offer the opportunity to be engaged with memory recall and cognitive stimulation, provide a social connection, and offer a variety of sensory opportunities. The use of everyday objects and experiences can trigger positive feelings, emotions, and memories,” Danielle said.

“The feel of the sand and water on their hands, the sound of splashing water, finding shells and holding them up to their ears and ‘listening to the ocean’. Beach combing is a great individual activity that assists with behaviours as it has a calming effect.”


Residents Judy and Tony Rollitt enjoy a beach-themed event at Carinity Kepnock Grove aged care in Bundaberg
Residents Judy and Tony Rollitt enjoy a Hawaiian-themed event at Carinity Kepnock Grove aged care.

Sensory activities also help to stimulate aged care residents’ memories, which can enhance their wellbeing.

“Whilst doing the beach combing activity, several residents reminisced about their beach experiences: what they did at the beach, family members that were with them, and some of the fun, happy times they had there,” Danielle said.

Other ocean-related activities at Carinity Kepnock Grove have included residents using virtual reality goggles to experience adventures such as snorkelling in reefs, and locating tropical fish in the Brain Trainer Plus computer program to promote cognitive stimulation.

Regular theme days include the Hawaiian Beach Party, held in a dining hall converted into an underwater oasis with a sensory reef, tropical food, and interactive photo booth where residents can feel beach sand on their feet.

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