During the summer, service users with acquired brain injuries went to a range of different holiday destinations including Norfolk, Lincolnshire, Shropshire and Wales, as well as supported home visits to all parts of the UK and further afield.
The choice of holiday destination is a decision made by each service user – we respect each person’s individuality and actively support them in making decisions, with the aim of increasing their autonomy. Not only is an annual summer holiday an enjoyable experience, for service users with acquired brain injuries it is also an important part of their rehabilitation programme and helps them in many ways. For example, a holiday is part of our focus on ‘normalisation’, enabling our service users to live as close to a normal life as possible and to enjoy things that they may have done before their brain injury, such as having a picnic or fish and chips by the seaside.
Although some of our service users need to keep to a routine, they all enjoyed the opportunity to see and experience new things and especially meeting and chatting to new people. Novel experiences enhance learning and when they are put into a functional context, such as preparing for and taking part in a holiday, they can provide an important source of practice and maintenance for skills.
Short term memory
The holidays also provide a focus for orientation for service users experiencing short term memory loss. For instance, preparing for a holiday and buying new clothes provide cognitive stimulation and enable service users to be excited about going away.
There are benefits to be gained after the holiday too – putting all of the photographs into an album also aids cognitive stimulation and the album provides a novel reference point for discussions about the trip and assists in a service users’ ongoing rehabilitation.
Quality of life
Quality of life is important to everyone and a relaxed and leisurely week by the sea provides some fresh air and a much welcome change of routine. Supported home visits helped service users to reconnect with family members and gave them all a real boost. All of these activities form part of individual rehabilitation programmes to increase skills and independence and to improve service users’ physical and emotional well-being.