Abbeyfield residents take up walking challenge

TEAM EFFORT: Williamstown Abbeyfield Society Inc active co-ordinator Robyn Bruce with residents Heather Franke, Mavis Roesler, Melva Collins and Val Grigg.
TEAM EFFORT: Williamstown Abbeyfield Society Inc active co-ordinator Robyn Bruce with residents Heather Franke, Mavis Roesler, Melva Collins and Val Grigg.

When residents at Williamstown’s aged care facility were challenged to walk to Lyndoch, little did staff realise they would keep walking and end up in Darwin.

The walking challenge, initiated by Abbeyfield Society Inc’s active co-ordinator Robyn Bruce, began on June 14, 2015, after a work colleague decided to measure the distance of the home’s internal hallway loop.

“We worked out it was about 0.12km and then we decided to work out how far some of our residents walk daily,” Mrs Bruce said.

The simple mathematical equation then led Mrs Bruce to put forward a challenge to 23 of the 26 active residents to count their laps to see if they could reach Lyndoch in a week; about a six kilometre trek.

Their reward: their favourite German cake, bienenstich.

Yet, within that week, the residents well and truly surpassed the mark and reached Adelaide, 80km away.

“We were just so amazed at how they wanted to become involved,” Mrs Bruce said.

A further challenge was set to walk the long way round to Darwin, via Melbourne, Sydney, Cape York and Katherine, before stopping in Darwin on Tuesday.

Each resident continued to keep track of how many laps they did per day.

The towns visited were then recorded on a map of Australia with Mrs Bruce also placing A4 posters of these places, with highlighted background information, for them to view.

She even contact visitor information centres urging them to provide residents will more information about each town.

Perhaps the funniest story for residents and staff along the journey involved a visitor centre member misunderstanding the home’s challenge and actually waiting for their arrival on a particular day.

While the engaging activity has meant residents stopping to chat with other residents along the way, the most satisfying aspect for staff is hearing how the daily walks have helped to boost their health and wellbeing.

Residents explained how it has assisted to loosen up stiff joints, with one resident sharing how she sleeps better at night.

“It is fun and keeps our legs moving going for a little walk,” Val Grigg said.

Mrs Grigg is also one of four ladies, including Heather Franke, Mavis Roesler and Melva Collins, who admitted the challenge has brought forward their competitive sides with each walking on average of 12km per week.

Mrs Bruce added how one resident, in a wheelchair, took up nine months of the challenge by walking while seated.

And the walk is far from done with residents still deciding which path to travel next to head home.

But for now they are quick to share while they have delivered on Mrs Bruce’s original challenge to get to Lyndoch, they still wait “very patiently” for a slab of bienenstich they were promised so many thousand kilometres ago.