Nursing home residents prepare to cruise the Pacific

RESIDENTS of a Brisbane aged care service will embark on a cruising holiday through the Pacific Ocean next month - in what is considered to be a rare event for an aged care service.

The six women, aged 80-95, live at Lutheran Community Care's Zion aged care service at Nundah and receive around-the-clock support. They will depart Brisbane on the P&O Pacific Dawn on June 11.

The residents will be accompanied on the three-day cruise by staff and volunteers from Zion, including a registered nurse and a physiotherapist.

Tina Boyce, 95, is the oldest resident taking part and says she is eagerly anticipating the "smell and movement of the ship''.

"I have been travelling all my life and I think this is possibly going to be my last journey, so I'm really looking forward to it. It is my birthday present to myself,'' she said.

"I think Zion must be the only aged care place in the world that is doing this for their people!''

For June Crimmin, 82, the trip represents "freedom''.

"At the moment, I can't go out by myself unless someone is with me because I get lost, so the cruise will give me some freedom. I'm also looking forward to dressing up to go to the [on-board] theatre at night.''

Another participant Gwen Lloyd, 80, is looking forward to dancing.

"All my life I have danced and been in everything and I'm excited about the chance to dress ourselves up in our finery and go out dancing and mixing with the other people on the cruise.''

Zion Lifestyle Coordinator Sharon Brown said the landmark cruise proved that entering aged care didn't mean the end of fulfilling and engaging pursuits.

"We are always looking for innovative, exciting and different activities for our residents,'' Ms Brown said.

"This is their life and they tell us what they want to do; we as the staff are here to help coordinate and facilitate their wishes as best we can. If that wish is to go on a cruising holiday, then we'll do our very best to make that happen.''

Zion staff have undertaken significant preparations ahead of the cruise to set the scene for an enjoyable holiday. Each resident will be paired with a staff member or volunteer.

Ms Brown said the trip had created a "real buzz'' in the aged care service and several people had already put their names down for the next cruise, which is tentatively planned for later this year.

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