WAILUA — This is like being in heaven without having to die, said Anthony “Tony” Clemente of New Jersey, Tuesday morning at Morgan’s Ponds at the Lydgate Park.
“It’s great to see people that would take time to help the elderly have fun,” Clemente said. “To watch them is incredible.”
The Clemente family watched as the staff of the Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital worked with volunteers and 22 third-year students from the Okinawa Prefectural College of Nursing in enabling the residents of Mahelona and Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital to enjoy the beach at Lydgate Park.
“The ladies and gentlemen who help were wonderful. We had a problem with English, but somehow we communicated,” said Trianna Bernal, a Mahelona resident. “They even let me put my whole head under water. This is the first time I’ve come to the beach since entering Mahelona. All the other times, I was too depressed. Today, I came, and I’m very happy I did. It was fun — and it’s free.”
Liza Cabal Trinidad, the hospital’s administrator, said the outing is about quality of life.
“And more than fun, we need to keep them intellectually motivated as well.,” she said. “We need this more than just a day at the beach. We do this every day.”
Joanna Martin, recreation director at KVMH, said she’s been coordinating similar programs at KVMH, the next beach outing scheduled for September.
“I don’t think I have ever seen an unhappy person in the three years I’ve done this,” Martin said. “It’s great for all the residents to be able to get out and socialize.”
Martin said the activity provides valuable lessons in nursing while allowing the elderly to enjoy the beach activity.
“You learn not just from the activity,” Martin said. “In nursing, there are different types of transfer techniques; you need to know the patient’s background, their ailments, and what to expect when they get in the water. You need to know if they’re happy, or not. I’m looking forward to getting into the program.”
Haruna Kamiya, one of the Okinawa students, said she had never experienced anything like the outing.
“When we go back, I want something like this kind of activity for our elderly patients,” she said.