The Health and Social Needs of Grey Nomads

If you own or manage a caravan or holiday park, then a certain proportion of your guests are going to be grey nomads.

If your caravan park is in the North West or Northern Territory, then you’re going to have a huge spike in grey nomad clientele during the colder winter months from June to September. Since grey nomads form such an integral part of holiday travel society, it’s important to understand their needs and desires for their travel.

What Is a Grey Nomad?

Grey nomad is the term applied to the portion of older Australian population who use their retirement years as an opportunity to travel widely. They do this because in retirement, they are freed from the responsibilities of work and family commitments, so they are able to use their time however they please, and they often choose to see more of the country.

Grey Nomads’ Health Concerns

In an Australian study which researched the health and social needs of grey nomads, it found that grey nomads have similar health status as that of the rest of the older population. Five per cent of interviewees had experienced a medical emergency while travelling. Some emergencies respondents experienced included: 

  • Back injuries.
  • Diagnosis of cervical cancer.
  • Deep vein thrombosis (from long periods sitting idle while travelling)
  • Fainting spells.
  • Pneumonia.
  • Severe arthritis.
  • Severe chest pain.

This shows that even though grey nomads are fit enough to travel, many of them leave their homes and protective social networks in order to start journeys that can sometimes push them beyond their physical limits. For you as a holiday park manager, this shows that even though your park is not expected to have the full capabilities of a hospital, you need to have adequate first aid equipment scattered throughout your park, in each caravan and each major facility, in places that are easily accessible. All holiday park workers should have a current senior first aid certificate and should be informed as to the emergency procedures.

Social Needs of Grey Nomads

In the study, many grey nomads expressed their need for social activities and community engagement while travelling. A lot of respondents said they enjoy sports with other travellers while staying at caravan parks. Grey nomads are highly sociable and form strong social networks with each other, including long-term friendships. Sharing ‘happy hour’ around a campfire is often the highlight of the day. They also often travel in groups, like to keep in touch with each other using either two-way radio or satellite phone technology. 

For your caravan park, this should highlight the need for it to have adequate sporting and social facilities as well as effective communication technology. For social facilities, as well as a mess hall, ensure you have a recreational lounge, plenty of campfire spaces with sitting logs, as well as undercover barbecue facilities. For sporting facilities, it can be as easy as providing backyard cricket gear, board games in the lounge, volleyball net or badminton gear, or a Bowles set. Ensuring your grey nomad guests are able to communicate with each other is important as well, so ensure you provide free Wi-Fi for all your guests.

You Can Help Grey Nomads Have Enjoyable Journeys

All this shows that even though grey nomads find fulfilment and adventure in journeying around Australia, the kinds of health and social needs they’d have back home are still important on the road.

If you recognise grey nomads’ needs and make adjustments to your holiday park accordingly, then your park can be conducive to their safe, social and happy journeys.

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