The summer is always a special time of year when, hopefully, the weather allows us to make the most of being outdoors, enjoying the sunshine and fresh air. When it comes to holidays, we make sure that they meet the needs of our service users, who are supported in deciding where they go and who accompanies them. Holidays take a lot of planning, which starts early in the year. But this pays off as they are really enjoyed by the service users who speak fondly of them on their return.
2 & 8 Kingsthorpe Grove – adults with learning difficulties
As many of our service users in these homes have been with us for a long time, they have built friendships and are aware of each others’ strengths, abilities, likes and dislikes. They go away in small groups and are involved in choosing their holiday companions and location. They like familiarity of holiday destinations and routine, so we work to get the balance right, taking into account relaxation and adventure. Destinations have included Yarmouth, Devon, the Isle of Wight and EuroDisney.
Individuals with acquired brain injuries
For our service users with acquired brain injuries, their needs can be more wide-ranging so we tend to organise holidays for small groups of two or three people, and some one-to-one holidays. One of our service users at the Mews had his first holiday since his brain injury 18 years ago when he went to Hemsby in Norfolk with two staff members. He had never wanted to go on holiday previously but had settled in really well since admission, so we offered him the opportunity. He went early in the season before it was too busy and it went really well. He normally mobilises in a wheelchair but he walked whilst in the holiday chalet.
Wherever possible, we try to accommodate specific requests for holiday destinations. The holidays are financed by accruing a certain amount each month then topped up if someone requires something extra. One lady wanted to go to the Eden Project, so with the help of the case manager, we sourced an adapted holiday home and we liaised with a local doctors’ surgery who were able to provide medical support. She went for a week with two carers.
One of our service users went to stay with his family in Serbia, while others shared a caravan at a holiday park in Skegness. Three people went for the first half of the week, three people went for the second half of the week and two joined them for a day trip in the middle. A good time was had by all – they enjoyed the evening entertainment in the clubhouse and daytime activities included going to the amusement arcade, the beach and the funfair, as well as paddle-boating and horse-riding.
In addition, a couple of service users went for a “Revitalise” holiday to Essex, where they joined in with activities such as armchair exercises, bingo and karaoke and had day trips to Clacton and Southend.
Not only is an annual summer holiday an enjoyable experience, for service users with acquired brain injuries, it is also an important part of their rehabilitation programme. It is part of our focus on ‘normalisation’, enabling them to live as close to a normal life as possible and to enjoy things that they may have done before their brain injury, such as having a picnic or fish and chips by the seaside.