As we approach the holiday season…It is strange that holiday, a word defined as a day exempt from work can find carers at their least relaxed.
Carers who holiday away from home are challenged by being away from established help
This vacation we haven’t had a regular assistant which means that I have to introduce our care needs each morning to a novice. Everyday I repeat the same care instructions to another shiny keen face. Everyone is delightful, responsive and capable but I feel caught in a carers groundhog day.
Our latest healthcare assistant arrived well before sun-up. I groped around for essentials like the kettle, tea bags and a large mug as my eyes refused to open in the bright electric light. The language barrier had morphed her arrival time into pre dawn, pre any birds stirring to sing a chorus and too early for me on holiday!
I may look upright, awake and even talking but carers on holiday are tired. At home we rely on a close-knit group of helpers that are like family. They arrive into a known schedule and a weekly routine. There is so much unsaid, laundry is manoeuvred without any communication, bathrooms mopped without directions. The dog is feed and pee’d without reference. The fridge is stocked as Woolworth’s shopping lists written with no prompting. life is known, familiar and well rehearsed.
Can Carers have a holiday?
How can carers achieve a holiday when essentially away from our home routines while seeking fun-filled days full of excitement and adventure or maybe a little rest!
Top tips for Carers on holiday:
- Don’t over schedule so that the day holds plenty of downtime.
- Allow the day’s plan to adapt to the mood so be flexible
- Be realistic about daily travel plans
- Enjoy the holiday atmosphere and soak up the ambiance of the day.
- Listen to the healthcare assistance as their local knowledge guided us to better experiences.
Wheelchair users and carers on holiday must rest
I was once told by a scuba diving instructor that if I wanted to see the beauty of the underwater world I should stay still. The fish would come to me instead of finning about like an intruder. I use this analogy on holiday to really appreciate our destination we just sit still and watch the world play out in front of us. Very relaxing and incredibly entertaining!
It is a challenge for carers to rest on holiday but we have the ability especially if we relish the varied and colourful helpers we interface with at our destinations. I have learnt more about local restaurants and dishes than we could eat! To benefit from local knowledge and insight is fabulous, I just have to go to bed early!
As we prepare ourselves for the holiday season with trips near and far, I recommend taking a moment to jot a checklist.
Checklist to help a carers holiday
No-one can write the definitive checklist but travel is relatively easy when you are strip everything down to the essentials, don’t over complicate. Remember you are on holiday!
- Have a travel checklist so that nothing is forgotten, equipment is expensive to leave behind.
- Never pack drugs, emergency catheter, wheelchair battery, GTN spray in luggage for the aircraft hold. Always have non replaceable items in your hand luggage.
- A travel commode negates the need to organize hire, delivery/pick up with hotels
- A sheepskin pad is useful as mattresses can initiate pressure marks and a sheepskin pad is a portable fix which can be used overnight for heels or sacrum. We add it occasionally on top of the aircraft seat to relieve any minor redness and promote circulation.
- Pack spares, screwdriver, ribbons, safety pins, sellotape.
- First aid kit. We packed some dressings/ plasters for heel blisters or scrapes and scratches. A valuable save so that skin integrity is maintained.
- Never underestimate pressure relief on flights or car journeys. You don’t need a pressure sore as a touring companion.
- Be prepared to rinse clothes each evening, lightweight lycra dries quickly, packs easily.
- Pack disposable items where possible
- Use large drainage bags for travel as it reduces the need to find accessible toilets. Always have an empty water bottle to use for aircraft and drainage emergencies.
- We bought a small atomiser to spritz water over Emily in the heat of the day to cool her skin.
- Ask as we were surprised at the available help when travelling.
- Time spent preparing to travel is proportionate to the holiday you enjoy. Tweak everything so you get the holiday you want. It’s worth it!
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