Summer activities for Service Users

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.

The Norfolk Coast

The Norfolk Coast

John enjoys his first ever holiday

We’ll soon be holding a birthday party at a local pub for John, one of our service users. That may not sound unusual, but on this occasion it is. John has been in our care for over 20 years and has rarely chosen to go out. He has learning disabilities and complex needs and he presented with very challenging and aggressive behaviour when he first came to us.

John has also achieved another major milestone – taking his first ever holiday when he went to the seaside town of Skegness in Lincolnshire for four days. He was supported by Selina, a review co-ordinator at The Richardson Partnership for Care, with whom he has a great rapport.

Skegness beachIt has taken years of hard work and consistent support from our trans-disciplinary team of therapists and our care support workers to enable John to develop his confidence and control his behaviour in order to take this huge step. To help him experience and enjoy the holiday as much as possible, it was booked at short notice. He chose where he went and who he wanted to accompany and support him. During the holiday he was in full control of what he did.

Dr Mick Clarke, a close family member of John said: “John is having the best care he has ever received and your professional and devoted work with him has enabled him to grow in confidence and become a happy man.”

“Selina’s total commitment to him has supported him to the extent that he has finally been able to go on holiday. Your team at the Richardson Partnership for Care has allowed him to blossom into the lovely caring man that was always there.”

“Your plans for him over the years to withdraw drug therapy and support John through specialist behaviour plans has meant he is becoming more socially skilled and a joy to be with. Going on holiday has meant John’s confidence has moved to another level.”

The holiday was such a success that he has requested to go back again next year as well as choosing to celebrate his birthday with a party at an external venue. This story demonstrates that consistent care and support, while providing opportunities for social integration and decision-making can lead to increasing fulfilment and autonomy.  Sometimes this is a very gradual process.

A seal in a pool at Skegness

Holidays form important part of brain injury rehabilitation

During the summer, service users with acquired brain injuries went to a range of different holiday destinations including Norfolk, Lincolnshire, Shropshire and Wales, as well as supported home visits to all parts of the UK and further afield.

The choice of holiday destination is a decision made by each service user – we respect each person’s individuality and actively support them in making decisions, with the aim of increasing their autonomy. 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 and helps them in many ways. For example, a holiday is part of our focus on ‘normalisation’, enabling our service users 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.

Novel experiences
Although some of our service users need to keep to a routine, they all enjoyed the opportunity to see and experience new things and especially meeting and chatting to new people. Novel experiences enhance learning and when they are put into a functional context, such as preparing for and taking part in a holiday, they can provide an important source of practice and maintenance for skills.

Short term memory
The holidays also provide a focus for orientation for service users experiencing short term memory loss. For instance, preparing for a holiday and buying new clothes provide cognitive stimulation and enable service users to be excited about going away.

There are benefits to be gained after the holiday too – putting all of the photographs into an album also aids cognitive stimulation and the album provides a novel reference point for discussions about the trip and assists in a service users’ ongoing rehabilitation.

Quality of life
Quality of life is important to everyone and a relaxed and leisurely week by the sea provides some fresh air and a much welcome change of routine. Supported home visits helped service users to reconnect with family members and gave them all a real boost. All of these activities form part of individual rehabilitation programmes to increase skills and independence and to improve service users’ physical and emotional well-being.

The Norfolk Coast

The Norfolk Coast is a favourite holiday destination for some of our service users

Choice of holiday destination is important to service users with learning disabilities

It has always been our philosophy to respect each of our service user’s individuality and actively support them in making decisions, with the aim of increasing their autonomy. These can be everyday choices or bigger decisions such as the choice of a holiday destination.

This summer, two of our service users with learning disabilities had a holiday at Billing Aquadrome, a local holiday park. It may not be everyone’s choice, but it is popular with our service users because of the wide range of activities available from fairground rides and pubs to fishing or quiet strolls around the lake.

The service users remain in control of their holiday by choosing from a range of destinations as well as choosing the support staff that they would like to accompany them. Some people require two carers to ensure that they can experience and enjoy a supported holiday to meet their needs and wishes.

Some individuals prefer to go somewhere familiar and others need more localised holidays to ensure that their physical and health needs can be met. Having a holiday closer to home also means that additional support workers are available, should they be needed.

Wherever our service users choose to go on holiday, we support them in their decision and respect their individual choice. Naturally, their holiday is very important to them and enhances their quality of life.

A statuc caravan

A local holiday park provides the perfect destination for some of our service users.

Summer holiday helps rehabilitation for service users with acquired brain injuries

We all enjoy a holiday, but for service users with acquired brain injuries they are also an important part of their rehabilitation. A small group from our home in Boughton Green Road, along with care and support staff have just returned from a week in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.

A holiday is an essential part of our focus on ‘normalisation’, enabling our service users to live as close to a normal life as possible and to enjoy things that they may have done before their brain injury. The holiday activities were similar to those of many families – we had a picnic on the way to break up the journey then fish and chips for dinner in the evening. We had some lovely weather and enjoyed visiting picturesque Southwold where we walked along the promenade and admired the colourful beach huts. We also went on a train ride and enjoyed lots of meals out.

Novel experiences
Although some of our service users need to keep to a routine, they all enjoyed the opportunity to see and experience new things and especially meeting and chatting to new people. Novel experiences enhance learning and when they are put into a functional context, such as preparing for and executing a holiday, they can provide an important source of practice and maintenance for skills.

The holiday also provided a focus for orientation for service users experiencing short term memory loss. Getting ready for the holiday and buying new toiletries or clothes was also an important activity providing cognitive stimulation and enabling the service users to be excited about going away.

Quality of life
Quality of life is important to everyone and a relaxed and leisurely week by the sea was a much welcome change of routine. In addition, each person had their own budget and could choose gifts to take back home, helping them to reconnect with family members.

We took lots of photographs on holiday which will go into an album to provide a novel reference point to aid cognitive stimulation and discussion about the holiday as part of service users’ ongoing rehabilitation.

The Norfolk Coast

The Norfolk Coast

Summer Holiday 2013 |Golden Sands Resort in Mablethorpe for Boughton Green Rd

Our service users at our Boughton Green Rd home have returned from their annual holiday in Mablethorpe, at the wonderful Haven Golden Sands Resort. As you may know by now, holiday planning is very much a group activity in our homes. The service users chose this destination, as they really enjoyed it last year, and wanted to go again. Luckily – it did not disappoint!  The holiday was once again packed with different activities for the service users to see and do, both in smaller and bigger groups. One of the activities they really enjoyed was going to the Sealife Centre for the day – check out this cute seal who popped in to say hello:

Seal at Sealife Centre, Lincolnshire

In this amazing weather – it was definitely a “must” to get some beach time in. There were definitely days spent at the local beach close to the resort which was thriving with other holiday makers. The service users loved watching and stroking the local donkeys who were taking children for rides on the beach front.  All this hot weather and chilling out was the perfect excuse to enjoy an ice-cream or two!

Beach Donkeys

The staff and service users also had a afternoon at the funfair and especially loved the paddle bikes (wow – hard work in the sun). We’d like to extend a personal thank you to all the staff at our Boughton Green Rd who made this holiday  possible and so much fun for all the service users who went. A lot of hard work and planning before, during and after the holiday is needed to be the best support and provide an environment that makes such an excursion enjoyable for all.

If you would like to find out more about the kinds of activities we include as apart of our service users lives at our homes – please feel free to call Louise, Sian or Diane (our Admissions and Referrals Team) on 01604 791 266 or tweet them on @RPC_residcare.

Summer Holiday 2012 | Lincolnshire for Boughton Green Rd

Finally, after months of planning, the Service Users at our Boughton Green Rd Home set-out on their summer holiday for 2012. This year they chose to go to a Haven’s resort in Lincolnshire – called Golden Sands. And the name says it in a nutshell!

The staff and Service Users stayed in caravans  and everyone really enjoyed themselves. The staff particularly felt that they had all worked very well together as a team to help give the Services Users a special holiday to be remembered. The Service Users were organised into two smaller groups with the caravans – which helped to ensure that each Service User benefitted from social inclusion and small, individualized group activities – offering a variety of choices.  Importantly – the Service Users were able to interact with the community and they engaged with each other and with the staff.

The staff were happy to see a lot of positive interaction and communication amongst the Service Users – they were willing to share and definitely more patient and tolerant of each other. (Great social skills!)

It has to be said that upon their return – the house was just buzzing from everyone’s eagerness to reshare their memories from their holiday and very keen make a scrapbook of pictures to capture the best times from the week away.

Some of the activities that the Service Users and staff tried out were the rides at the funfair (including some brave people who tried the bungee trampoline!) and the pedlows on the lake (great for co-ordination).

Because of the time of year some of the group managed to see the Olympic Torch Relay as it passed through the town. They loved it and got caught up in the excitement alongside the rest of the residential community lining the streets to welcome the torch bearer.

Another successful Service User holiday was had by all – and mainly because they all had an input into where they went and what they would do when they got there. We also have a fab bunch of staff who always go above and beyond…to truly enrich the lives of our Service Users. I’d like to say a big thank you to our Homes staff for your valuable support during these Service User holidays!