Holidays with Dementia

Image of people on a MindforYou holiday visiting a beach

Did you spot our blog last month announcing the launch of the Euan’s Guide dementia filter and discussing the new dementia-friendly tourism guides produced by VisitEngland and VisitScotland?

Dementia has been on our mind for some time here at Euan’s Guide, but after speaking to Carol Sargent, the founder of MindforYou and a contributor to the new tourism guides, we decided to bring the launch of our dementia filter forward to coincide with this great work.

MindforYou is a social business which provides supported holidays for people living with dementia and their carers to go on together. The team at MindforYou have started to use their expert knowledge to write disabled access reviews on Euan’s Guide for the places they visit with their guests. From places to stay, things to do, and places to eat, we look forward to reading more reviews from MindforYou in the future. These reviews will be a great assistance for anyone with dementia or other access requirements looking for places to visit. 

Carol started MindforYou in 2014. It is great to see how the business has grown and how many people they have helped over the years. We managed to catch up with the MindforYou team this week to find out a bit more about their work and what it means to travel with dementia.

Can you tell us a bit about MindforYou?

Holidays are precious. They are a chance to enjoy new places, re-charge the batteries and spend quality time with the ones you love. MindforYou provides such opportunities for those at risk of missing out, because they or their loved one has dementia. We draw on personal experiences and expertise to ensure our guests truly enjoy their time with us, knowing we'll provide support tailored just for them. Our five day holidays with a maximum of 10 guests are a special alternative to traditional respite. At MindforYou we believe that everyone has the right to a fabulous holiday.

Image of a group of people outdoors as part of a MindforYou holiday

Image of a group of people outdoors as part of a MindforYou holiday

What can people expect when going on a MindforYou holiday?

A holiday full of fun and relaxation which is personalised to your needs. Our guests love the support from the staff and other guests on the holiday, it ends up feeling like an extended family holiday. Other guests have shared the fact that after the holiday they had a renewed zest for life. 

What do you look for when planning a trip?

It depends entirely on what our guests’ support needs and interests are as each holiday is personalised to them. By visiting our guests prior to their holiday we can tailor the property, excursions and menu to our guests’ needs. General areas such as suitable toilets, friendly and approachable staff and accessibility are very important. We plan to go on excursions during quieter times, which is why our holidays aren't during school holiday times, and when eating at a cafe/restaurant we ask if we can have a quieter area close to the toilets. Flexibility when on excursions is something that is essential for our groups, whether that is different routes for different levels of mobility or the fact that we take two cars so we have the option to take guests who are tired home earlier.

What tip would you give someone planning their own holiday for someone with dementia?

Something that can really make or break a holiday is travel. Anxiety can build, especially in people living with dementia, if the journey times are too long. Therefore we always recommend people try spending their first holiday going somewhere close to home. After that, people can try going a little further away next time.

When using Euan’s Guide, what do you look for in other people’s reviews? 

The suitability of the toilets and parking and also how approachable and friendly the staff are. Accessibility is also important if we have a guest who uses a wheelchair.

Is there any particular information that people should include in their reviews when considering if a place is suitable for people with dementia?

All the areas that Euan's Guide have selected are great to know. Building on that we would suggest mentioning things such as noise level and crowds as this can be distressing for someone living with dementia. Consider if there is an easy way to leave the venue if someone gets anxious and if there are staff available who would be able to lead them to this exit. People with dementia can have visual and depth perception issues and can struggle to interpret their surroundings, we always consider this when deciding if a venue is suitable or not. 

How have you found writing your own reviews?

As we take groups on holidays together, we quickly realised that we had to write reviews from the perspective of specific guests because everyone has different access requirements. This is why you will sometimes see more than one review from MindforYou for a venue.

We liked the way the Euan's Guide reviews are broken down into different sections, so much so that we have now changed the way we review excursions internally!

Image of three people outside a historic building on a MindforYou holiday

Image of three people outside a historic building on a MindforYou holiday

You contributed to the dementia-friendly tourism guide. Is there any additional practical advice you could give to businesses looking to be more welcoming to people with dementia?

Take extra time when describing things and don't rush people e.g. allow extra time for group dining at a restaurant or cafe. Try to create a non-judgemental environment where people are treated how you would like to be treated and not like children. Perhaps if a group phones up, you could ask if there is someone living with dementia in the group and offer them a designated quiet area near the toilet. Offer carers reductions or free entrance.

Can you tell us about a great experience you have had on a group excursion? 

We have had lots of fantastic experiences, so sorry we can't pick one, here are two! 

The Alhambra cinema in Penrith blocked off every aisle seat so we could have our choice when we arrived, they refunded a ticket for someone who couldn't come and were just generally very welcoming and supportive. 

Holkham Hall in Norfolk was brilliant. They were waiting for us when we arrived to welcome us personally, they let us book a table and gave us table service when they don't normally do that. They also organised a tour for us at a quieter time for our group.

A special thank you to MindforYou for taking the time to talk to us.

Follow the links below to find out more about their holiday options or to read their Euan’s Guide reviews.

You can also find MindforYou on Facebook and Twitter.

Tags: guest blog, interview

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