I recently returned from a holiday on Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays (lucky me).  It was a pleasant, relaxing time spent with loved ones. As an inner city dweller I enjoyed the beautiful scenery, the bush and the daily visits from the local cockatoos, lorikeets and a wallaby family.

Hamilton Island is a resort. The word ‘resort’ often appears in the marketing of accommodation for older people. This set me reflecting upon the elements of my holiday that I’d like to see if/when I move into aged care accommodation and those that would be superfluous to my needs.

We had several outings – that’s something that all aged care places offer. Of the plethora of ‘activities’ the resort boasts, we only really used the pool. To be honest, I missed my weekly routine of health and social activities. If I was an aged care resident, would I be able to continue the community connections I enjoy, or would I have to consider some of the ‘facility offerings’?

We were self-catering, so were able to choose to cook in (with the reality TV- type challenge of a limited pantry to draw on) or eat out. Instead of the routine chore of preparing a meal, it was fun working together to get tasty food onto the table. Whilst all facilities offer menu choices, there is scope for greater involvement of residents in meal preparation.

The importance of a good night’s sleep is recognised. We were all pleased to get back to our own beds. Not only was the bed firm, the pillows were brick-like. Whilst there can be practical restrictions on people taking their own beds into aged care, hotel style pillow menus would be welcome.

I believe I would have enjoyed the stay even if I’d been on my own, but having family and friends there made for a pleasant environment in a temporary place. We even managed to negotiate DVD watching that met everyone’s needs. We all enjoy the refuge, comfort and familiarity of home. I have renewed respect for the people who manage to adapt to permanent living with strangers and for the staff who help them to do so.

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