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Abigail Ringer uses her own experience to suggest some holiday options for the differently-abled traveller.
My family and I stayed with friends in Cambridge recently and we have just realised it was our first time away in nearly a year. Sometimes leaving home for the night feels like such an ordeal that it hardly seems worth it. For reasons that I won’t go into, it involves carting boxes of medication, breathing support machines and an oxygen concentrator and the machines require a separate room on arrival. All this seems impossible to manage in the average hotel or bed and breakfast, but sitting in our friends’ home, we agreed that it is good to get away – away from the ‘to do’ list and the routine of everyday, away from the garden that needs weeding and from the cobwebs gathering in the corner of the kitchen.
This is not a glamorous holiday by any means, but since we have arrived we feel refreshed and it has made me reflect on how important it is to get away from it all once in a while. Like millions of others, our lives are made more complex by loving someone who is differently-abled, so I thought I would take a look to see exactly what holiday options are available for those close to us who are differently-abled, and the charities that help to make these holidays a possibility.
I have mentioned Kids in Action in an earlier blog. This is a charity which provides support to children and young adults with special needs. They have three pretty swanky caravans in a holiday park in Great Yarmouth, complete with wet room and ramp. Camping may not be your thing but these ‘home from homes’ come with central heating and double glazing – not to mention the swimming pool, crazy golf and entertainment available at the park.
On a similar theme, The Kensington Foundation’s Daisy Chain Project offers holidays in bright and modern accommodation in Blackpool for families caring for a differently-abled child. The holiday homes come free of charge and are wheelchair accessible. There are 10 self contained apartments and they look absolutely charming. The apartments for children have their own theme such as ‘Animal Kingdom’, ‘Bluebell Wood’ and the ‘Planet Suite’ – I admit this sounds a bit twee but the décor is surprisingly tasteful. Equipment is available to hire including portable hoists, changing mats etc.
For those with a larger budget, Gwel an Mor resort in Cornwall combines luxury with practicality. A number of the Scandinavian style lodges are accessible to the differently-abled traveller but the Assisted Residence Lodge is in a league of its own. There is wheelchair access throughout, a well equipped kitchen, a fully adjustable electric bed, a wetroom and an H hoist system between the bedroom and the wet room. Not to mention the private sun deck with log burner! I know I am getting overexcited but even the resort swimming pool has a hoist for guests, the restaurant is easy to access and the on-site farm, where one can meet tame foxes, is sure to be a favourite.
If you want to venture further afield, disabledholidays.com provides advice on accessible cruises. I have never actually been on a cruise but it is pretty tempting. DisabledHolidays.com works with the cruise provider to ensure the differently-abled traveller has assistance at ports and access to adapted cabins. They provide mobility equipment which is delivered to the cabin and even provide insurance for people with pre-existing conditions. DisabledHolidays.com can take you to destinations such as the Caribbean, the Norwegian Fjords or the Mediterranean.
With destinations such as these, our little trip to Cambridgeshire is appearing less glamorous by the minute, but I felt refreshed for being away. At work I have the privilege of representing families affected by cerebral palsy and other brain injuries. Our team strives to get compensation for children who have been injured at birth as a result of a medical accident – often because they were not delivered as quickly as they should have been and have been deprived of oxygen. Compensation can’t take away a brain injury but it has the potential to transform a child’s future and pay for a family’s much needed holiday.