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Seniors Take the Plunge with New Beach Chair

Date: 26 Feb 2024

A floating chair is making waves for care home residents in the Hibiscus Coast, providing vulnerable older people the opportunity to experience the beauty of the ocean.

Northhaven At The Beach 2

A modified ocean access chair (C1 South floating beach wheelchair), equipped with inflatable components, harnesses, and large plastic wheels, has become a source of joy, nostalgia, and newfound vitality for residents at Bupa’s Northhaven Care Home, who can now take a dip safely in the ocean.

Provided by the Halberg Foundation many years ago, the chair was used for a surf club member’s daughter and, thanks to the efforts of Bupa care home staff and local Red Beach Surf Club to ensure, has now found new life with residents of Bupa Northhaven Care Home.

The initiative was sparked by Bupa Activities Coordinator, Jayne Weir, who believed residents with cognitive impairment or physical disabilities should be able to enjoy the beach no matter the challenges that stood in their way.

She says, “Many of our residents talk about how much they miss going into the sea. So I wanted to find a way for them to recapture this experience and all the joy that comes with a dip in the ocean in summer.

“I made numerous calls, and connected with the Red Beach Surf Club, who not only had a chair but were incredibly supportive of our mission to increase access for vulnerable people and create meaningful experiences for our residents.”

The chair, with its inflatable components, and training from Red Beach’s Surf Club experts, enables care home staff to safely transport residents into the water, allowing them to feel the sand and water between their toes and to go out as far as the waves for the more adventurous among them.

Jayne says, “The impact has been nothing short of extraordinary. You’ve just got to look at our residents’ faces and hear them talk.

“The beach visits have brought joy and energy to the whole care home. Our residents reminisce about memories of their time at beach with children and grandchildren, and a beach visit has become a focal part of the day at Bupa Northhaven. It’s a therapeutic and emotionally enriching activity and we’re pleased to be able to provide it.

“The issue we have now is the demand for the beach visits. Word has spread quickly and we have a wait list of residents who are eager to take a trip to the beach,” she says.

Red Beach Committee Member Andrew Short, who works for assisted technology company Permobil NZ that sponsors the surf club, is pleased the club can support increased beach access to the local community.

“We value accessibility at Red Beach Surf Club,” he says. “You’re only ever an idea and an innovation away from being able to access meaningful experiences, and the chair is just that. A way to enjoy the beach for people who thought they might never again get the chance,” he says.

Andrew believes there will be increasing demand for items like the floating beach wheelchair. He says, “We have an ageing population and a country that loves the beach. Demand will only increase.”

Jayne says, “We’re always looking at ways to provide a full and enjoyable experience for our residents and the Red Beach Surf Club has played a pivotal role in helping enhance their lives. Their willingness to provide this resource exemplifies the spirit of local community and the value they place on accessibility. We are immensely grateful for their support."

Northhaven Care Home

142 Whangaparaoa Road, Red Beach. Auckland.

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