19th Jun 2019

Do you find respite boring?

Updated: Tuesday 11th August 2009

Do you find respite boring?

I have been very fortunate not to have had to spend too much time in respite staring at the ceiling and walls. I will not say that it is quite as bad as serving a prison sentence, although this is how I would imagine it to be. I know it's not quite that bad but it is hard work trying to think of new things to do; for there is only so many times you can play the same card games, and there seems little else to do.

Having spent my last two holidays at a Vitalise Centre, (formerly known as the Winged Fellowship Trust) I can say there is a lot to be gained and experienced by staying here in England in one of their many centres around the country. There are Vitalise centres in Cornwall, Nottingham, Southport, Essex and Southampton, all providing 24-hour care. No matter how severe your disability, they seem to be able to look after just about anybody at these centres. Skylarks, (one of the Vitalise centres) is only a few miles from Nottingham city centre in the heart of England, yet setback far enough as so not to be able to hear any traffic. For me personally, it is only 18 miles away, which is quite handy as I am able to take my chair with me. That's the one that I sit in at home and not just the one used to wheel me around places; so you could say that I make myself at home.

The Skylarks centre is located within the outskirts of West Bridgford, a short drive away from Nottingham city centre. The centre is all on one level and many of the bedrooms offer direct access to the landscaped gardens. Personally I like to sit out by the pond, which I find extremely relaxing, especially as the constant trickle of water from its tiny waterfall adds to the pleasant and calming atmosphere. It has something like 26 single en suite rooms with pressure relieving mattresses, hoists and so on. It has an indoor heated swimming pool which, at 37 C, is very therapeutic, a lounge and a licensed bar, (of which I have made use on many occasions.)

Care is provided by fully qualified staff, including a nurse who is available 24 hours a day. They are backed up by volunteers, not just from this country but from far and wide. Last year my volunteer was a young medical student from London, this year it was a young Polish man who simply wanted to improve his English. We, that's you and I, are referred to as, “guest’s". We are all allocated a volunteer to look after us, to escort us on trips as well as assisting us with our personal care; a companion and, in many cases, eventually a good friend. In my opinion, these volunteers are crucial in ensuring that you have a good holiday. Should you not get on, you can always request someone else.
They provide day trips around the country in their specially adapted buses to places such as Chatsworth House, in Derbyshire, and as far down as Stratford-upon-Avon, home of Shakespeare, or sometimes even further.

In their brochures they say they provide, "essential breaks for disabled people and their carers"; I think that is a fair statement to make. It seemed to me that nobody is discriminated against at these centres no matter how severe or what their disability. It is certainly a lot different from being stuck on a hospital ward on a summer's day.
Yes, Skylarks is for me, although I am classed as a low maintenance disabled person, (I use it mainly as a base to do what I want to do) as opposed to someone who is severely disabled and is classed as high maintenance; whom they seem well geared up to cater for. They make sure everyone is able to take part in all activities. I could not find anyone who was not happy with their stay here on an emotional last day at Skylarks, for a second year running.
It is certainly not cheap; it cost me £910 for a week this year. If you find that a bit expensive, you can always apply for funding from your social worker or your local social services. As it is classed as respite you should be able to get funding towards the costs, in some cases in full. So, if you should get the opportunity to go to one of these Vitalise centres, not necessarily Skylarks I would definitely recommend that you give them a go.


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