Whether you like relaxing on a tropical beach, getting away to a cottage in the countryside or want to satisfy your sense of adventure, holidays are a perfect way to escape from the stresses
of everyday life.
However, the effects of a brain injury can make finding and planning a holiday hugely difficult.
An increasing number of hotels and attractions are accessible to people with physical disabilities, but what about people who need high levels of care, or are living with the hidden effects of brain injury such as memory problems, difficulties in crowded places or fatigue? In these cases, a more specialist supported holiday may be the best option.
In this article we focus on some of the supported holiday options that are available, and give some top tips to help you plan your perfect getaway…
Meg Elliot feared she’d never be able to return to the active lifestyle she once led, after a fall while rock climbing in Snowdonia left her battling the physical effects of a brain injury.
But she found that while on a holiday to the Calvert Trust in the Lake District, she was given the opportunity to experience things she never thought possible.
From horse riding to accessible cycling, the Calvert Trust offers a host of exciting activities.
Meg said: “I chose the Calvert Trust because I really like outdoor activities and they have a very good reputation.”
Fatigue, a reduced concentration span and physical weakness meant that Meg needed special measures to be put in place to help her during her stay.
“I was given extra time at lunch so I could go and rest in my bed,” said Meg. “I was asked how I wanted to do things. The team were all very encouraging.
“Overall it was a very relaxing atmosphere and there was no stress at all.”
Meg now visits the Calvert Trust every year.
She said: “It’s an amazing holiday with friends, family or carers.
When I’m there, I can be independent which is such a great feeling.
Samantha* was on holiday in Lanzarote when she fell and sustained a traumatic brain injury, leaving her with mobility and balance problems.
She found that after her injury, she required specialist accommodation while on holiday.
“I really struggle with my balance and I find it difficult to get around so I needed somewhere with wheelchair access,” said Samantha. “I also struggle with steps so this was an important factor when finding somewhere.”
Luckily, Samantha found the perfect resort which catered for her needs in Matagorda, Lanzarote.
She said: “The facilities were perfect. Without things in place such as wheelchair access and walk-in showers, I would have really struggled.
“Going on holiday also gives me and my family the opportunity to relax and step away from our daily routine.”
Samantha now visits the resort three times a year.
She said: “I’m so glad I found somewhere abroad that is fully accessible for everyone.
I really enjoy my time there and it’s so beneficial for me.”
*name changed for anonymity
Assisted holidays come in many different forms, and there are a huge range of providers to choose from. Try to think first about the type of holiday you prefer, and take your time to put together a list of requirements – things like step-free access to your room, quiet spaces to relax or carers on hand to assist. Then, speak to the provider to make sure they can meet your needs, and don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions!
We’ve put together a short list of holiday options to get you started:
Provides centres in Exmoor, Kielder Forest and the Lake District, providing accessible adventure breaks for everyone. They enable people with cognitive, sensory, behavioural and physical disabilities to achieve their potential through exciting activities.
Choose from over 600 disabled friendly holidays in more than 50 destinations, including overseas beach holidays, adapted villas, group holidays for wheelchair users, city breaks, luxury holidays, accessible tours & safaris - and much more. The ‘Enablers’ arrange everything from airport assistance and adapted transfers to guaranteed adapted rooms in accessible hotels,
apartments and villas.
Houghton Haus is a beautiful villa for up to eight people, set high in the Austrian Alps. The owners have over 10 years of experience in disability tourism including supporting people with acquired brain injury, and can support you to find a range of accessible activities nearby such asrafting, kayaking and walking routes.
Revitalise provide everything you’d expect from a proper holiday, combined with the reassurance of excellent nurse-led care and an army of brilliant volunteers. Revitalise has three fully accessible holiday centres situated in Chigwell in Essex, Southampton and Southport. With plenty of support, live entertainment and a host of accessible excursions, there’s something for everyone.
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