Care home residents explore virtual travel

21 Jul 2020

For many of us, innovation and creativity have been the answer to how to combat any boredom during lockdown. Whilst many people still feel unsafe travelling, and others are questioning whether they should get on a plane or not, residents and staff at Jewish Care’s Sidney Corob House have been enjoying travelling virtually.

 Together, they have been to exciting destinations including Paris, the beaches of Mallorca and the Balearic Islands, and soon, they will be visiting Italy. These virtual tours of international destinations are led by their tour guide Isabel Fontes, one of the social coordinators at the home.

The virtual tour of Paris begins with a journey that takes the visitors right past a long queue and straight in to the 150m glass-walled lift, to ride up to the spectacular 360-degree views from the top of the Eiffel Tower, over-looking the capital’s famous sights including the Sacré Coeur, Notre-Dame and Trocadéro.

While residents wait for real-life, local visits to destinations to begin, they have also been immersing themselves in the sights and sounds of nearby places. Sheree Charalampous, Sidney Corob House’s other social coordinator, has also acted as a virtual tour guide to a number of local destinations.

Sheree says, “Because we haven't been able to take the residents on outings, I had the idea to film my walks and do a virtual outing. I've virtually taken them along to Golders Hill Park, Primrose Hill, Regent’s Park Rose Garden and the River Thames. I've also done a virtual tour of Hampstead and Primrose Hill and I’m next planning to go to Hampstead Garden Suburb with a history tour and to visit the hidden allotments.

Isabel says, “Residents haven’t been able to go on outings, so this is a perfect way to still experience other places. Sheree sends me short videos of her walks and I then build them in to one video and present them to the residents. They have really enjoyed the virtual outside walks whilst being inside, through the parks listening to the conversations of people, the sounds of the birds and the step by step description from Sheree. Some residents have also now been on their first real-life visit to Golders Hill Park nearby, which was fantastic to be able to do.”

She continues, “Further afield, I’ve taken them on a virtual trip to Eiffel Tower in Paris, which is available for anyone to follow on the Jewish Care online activities portal. I also collected some facts and information to share with residents about the destinations before starting the tour. As I have been to the places we’ve visited virtually so far, it was fun to answer questions from residents and staff on the virtual tour.

“Together, we decided where to go next. The residents picked Mallorca and the Balearic islands of Spain, and they had a wonderful travel experience. It was great to see their enthusiasm and we had a lot of fun sharing stories from the places we’ve visited.  I also got to know more about who had already visited the islands, and who would like to. We discovered that all the residents share a passion for the sea!

“One of our residents, Linda, was really excited and relived happy moments and shared stories. She said, “I would like to be there right now on those lovely beaches. It reminds me of when I went on holidays with my parents to Costa del Sol on a cruise!"

Isabel continues, “Another resident, Beverly, was very happy remembering some of the places she had already been to in Mallorca and Ibiza, and for resident, Eveline, there was a sense of relief for her to see the sea in the morning and she seemed to feel refreshed. It reminded her of when she went on holidays with her family.”

Eveline said, “It was lovely to see the beach in the morning, the sea, the people. My mother loved the sea."

Isabel and Sheree are already busy planning their next virtual trip to Italy. There are a variety of virtual tours available on the travel section of Jewish Care’s activity portal with destinations from Israel to India, and into outer space for the whole community through jewishcare.org/keepingactive/virtual-travel