Residents take flight with armchair travel experience

You might not have heard of them, but St Vincent’s Care Airlines  is flying high in an aged care home near you. 

They may not be serenaded by a choir dressed in white or under the banner of a flying kangaroo, but they are making travel accessible to all who can sit, eat and watch on a Virtual Armchair Travel Experience at St Vincent’s Care Mitchelton in Brisbane.

aged care staff member presenting armchair travel

We first caught up with the Mitchelton team just over a year ago when they were nominated for an award at St Vincent’s for their Armchair Travel program, which came out of something of a necessity during COVID.

 With Lifestyle Coordinator Joanne Moore heading up the video experiences and fabulous dress-ups and Claire Keane’s catering and dulcet tones on the commentary the pair make the perfect team. 

Through the program, aged care residents could be transported to another place and time, learn more about other cultures and most importantly of all, forget about the grimness of the COVID-19 pandemic for a short while. Claire explains:

“We found that as COVID hit deeply from February last year (2020), that many residents who normally have been very social were becoming increasingly isolated and were taking refuge in their rooms. They had been inundated by so much bad news from the telly that they just felt that the future was looking very grim.

So, we sat down and we had a bit of chat about it and we decided that one of the best ways to come to deal with this quite confronting situation was to go on a fantasy ride.”

And so, they did. St Vincent’s Care Airlines set off on its first flight across the globe, and in the middle of a muggy Brisbane summer, they sought the cooler refuge of the cold wilds of Alaska. Moving down through the alphabet their next voyage was in Belgium where they decided to add a little something extra in the journey – the inclusion of food!“

As we went down the alphabet, we incorporated food from each of the places that we were visiting whether it was waffles and chocolate from Belgium or sushi from Japan.” But what Claire and the team discovered and brought to these virtual trips was what proved to be the highlight.

“What we found was that as we explored the possibility for food, we went to suburbs of Brisbane where these ethnic minorities lived and we got to talk to them. We got to experience the food firsthand, and we got to bring their stories back,” Said Claire. 

“So, we incorporated the stories of the local Brisbane migrants into our narration of the travel log to the country of the day. And this was a very enriching experience for so many of the residents and also ourselves because we were discovering the multicultural place that was right on our doorstep. 

“And frankly, it really was one of the best things about the program.”

From the residents to the staff there’s no doubt that Armchair Travel (and St Vincent’s Care Airlines) have been an enormous hit.

We wish them all the best for their future departures as they make their way down the alphabet. So, for a short while, this is St Vincent’s Care, signing off. We hope you enjoy the remainder of your flight.

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