Sally has been a Shared Lives carer for three and a half years with the Guideposts scheme and is currently matched with four people who stay at different times for regular weekends and holidays. Sally writes about taking part in our Town, Sea and Country scheme which enables people to be matched with Shared Lives carers for homely and affordable holidays across anywhere in the UK. Working across local authority boundaries has been a barrier in the past to people taking a holiday wherever they want, whilst many accessible holidays are expensive and can feel institutionalised.
The matching process involved a short matching visit in which Sally and Geoffrey got to know each other a little and a long telephone conversation between Sally and Geoffrey’s long-term Shared Lives carer. Sally read through all of Geoffrey’s plans and risk assessment which she says were “detailed and included valuable practical advice”. This was Sally’s first holiday for someone from another Shared Lives scheme. She writes that after the visit was booked in:
“I was very pleased but after the initial joy I did experience a moment of ‘oh my goodness, what have I just agreed to!’ But then rational thinking returned – yes, it might seem a bit daunting but I was sure that with careful planning and a bit of hard work on my part and support from both schemes, a positive outcome would be achieved.
Geoffrey shared the first three days with a regular service user who was having a respite holiday. They established a good rapport and I was able to find activities to suit both. I spent time researching places to visit and things to do before and during Geoffrey’s stay. I knew he liked classical music and attending concerts so I booked tickets for a Snape Proms event given by the BBC Concert Orchestra. There were situations that could potentially cause Geoffrey great anxiety, so I tried to anticipate the ways in which he might perceive his surroundings in order to minimise such occasions and maintain his confidence. I kept a diary as a basis for personal reflection and for others to read to gain insight into how things had progressed. With Geoffrey’s permission I took a few photographs.
Overall we had a brilliant time! It was often hard and intense work but Geoffrey was able to discuss options for outings and the pros and cons that might arise. He was also familiar with ‘being on holiday’. I got to visit several local museums for the first time. My husband as a support worker joined us on trips when he could – to the concert and for our seaside fish and chips. Throughout I was well supported by both schemes, with regular, planned telephone calls which were never obtrusive and I felt comfortable in raising a few concerns and queries that inevitably arose over the two weeks.
There will be some ‘fine tuning’ of domestic practicalities for future occasions but I now have the basis of a portfolio of holiday opportunities and knowledge of venues which I can develop over time. Importantly I have enhanced my knowledge and skills. I feel satisfied that in giving my best the holiday proved successful and I have gained confidence as a result.
I look forward to my next booking!”