Carers' guide to planning an accessible staycation


Charlotte Murphy is a freelance writer focused on health and social care. She shares her top tips for having a successful day out with the person we care for. And we've added a few insights from our carer community too.



Illustration of a man driving a car, on his way to a destination

As carers, it is not always easy to plan holidays. Especially when we're in a pandemic and holidays at home are fully booked!


So here's our guide to creating a memorable staycation. Built around fun days out with our cared-for.


We also have a great list on places where carers can go free. Take a look and start saving pennies.




Everything we need to know to have a fun staycation with the person we care for


According to experts at Helping Hands:

“Holidays are an important part of life, giving people the opportunity to rest, recuperate, and experience a change of scenery. They also give you something to look forward to, as well as something to reminisce about.”

Holidays allow us to create lots of new happy memories to share and reflect upon with our cared-for.


Many of us can’t get away at the moment, but we can still plan a fun staycation and enjoy a well-deserved break. After all, a change is as good as a rest, so the saying goes. Here are tips for planning a day out with our cared-for. Along with ideas for carer-friendly and accessible days out in the UK.



Carers top tips for planning a day out

Planning a day out with our cared-for can be daunting, especially if we haven’t been out for a while.


Here are tips to help us plan a successful day out with our cared-for:

  • Search for accessible attractions that offer the facilities our cared-for needs. For example, disabled toilets, wheelchair ramps, hoists, etc.

  • Choose local attractions to avoid long travel. We should take things slowly and build up to longer travel times and further attractions.

  • Write a packing list in advance. Helping us to remember the essential items that our cared-for will need while we’re out.

  • Ask a family member, friend, or another carer to join us on our day out to provide additional care and support.

Illustration of a hand holding a key, and one the right are some clouds, the sun and flying birds above the cloud.



Activate Google Maps' 'Accessible Places' feature

Did you know Google Maps has introduced a new feature on their Google Maps app to allow us to easily find wheelchair-accessible places? By turning on this feature, accessible places information will be displayed more predominantly on our phones when we are using it, saving us from the hassle of having to find out first before we leave.


Simply ensure you have the latest version of Google Maps, go to settings, select 'Accessibility', and turn on 'Accessible Places'.



Carer friendly/accessible days out in the UK

The UK has a fantastic range of accessible attractions that everyone can enjoy. There are some great companies, with accessible guides, which make a helpful starting point, including:

  • Revitalise is a national charity that creates holidays for disabled people and their carers. They have also conducted thorough research and created their accessible tourism report. They’ve ranked UK attractions based on factors around accessibility. Including the number of disabled toilets, wheelchair access, and the number of staff with disability awareness training.

  • The Rough Guide to Accessible Britain is another great resource. Updated each year, and packed with over 200 reviews of accessible and inspiring days out.

  • Motability also has a great scheme which helps us lease a new car or a wheelchair accessible vehicle. So we can have smoother carer-friendly days out. Find out more here.

  • Take a look at this article by Tinbox Traveller for more ideas of accessible days out.

  • Countryside Mobility have an accessibility guide to attractions in the Southwest.

  • 'The Passenger Assistance App' available on both iOS and android the app easily helps the person we are for request for assistance when using trains across the UK.


Here’s a snapshot of top accessible days out, we can enjoy with our cared-for, at various locations across the UK.


England

  • Top 20 accessible attractions in London. The capital has a huge variety of accessible attractions. Including the London Science museum, the British Museum, and Tate Modern.

  • Brighton beach. Brighton has been voted as one of the best coastal breaks for disabled people. We can hire an all-terrain beach wheelchair in advance to enjoy a fun day relaxing on the beach. They also have a changing places toilet.

  • Bristol Zoo Gardens. This is the fifth oldest zoo in the world. And has been voted the most accessible attraction in Bristol. We can enjoy a fun day out with our cared-for watching different animals (there are more than 10,000!) and enjoying the beautiful natural scenery.


Scotland

  • Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Based in Edinburgh, this is ranked as the top accessible attraction in Scotland.

  • Edinburgh Castle. We can hire a complimentary vehicle for wheelchair users in advance. Enabling our cared-for access to the inner buildings and grounds of the famous fortress. There are also electric wheelchairs for hire.


Wales

  • Caernarfon Castle. Medieval castles are not often accessible to people with disabilities. However, this fortress now features a purpose-built ramp. This provides wheelchair access to the inside of the castle. We also get free entrance as a carer.

  • Penmaenmawr Beach. With only great things said by carers in the Mobilise community, the Penmaenmawr beach is also a must-visit.

One visitor describe it as:

"a lovely quiet beach, accessible via bike path from Conwy. Cafe, toilets ample parking. With a boat ramp that can be used as disabled / push chair access if required."

Northern Ireland

  • Ulster Museum is Northern Ireland’s most accessible and wheelchair-friendly day out. In fact it ranks at number five overall in the UK. Free entrance is offered to disabled people and there are excellent wheelchair facilities.


And the list is endless! Join the the Accessible Holidays and Day Trips Facebook Group for even more carer-friendly places to visit!



Where do our carers like visiting?

We asked our community of unpaid carers where their favourite place to visit with their cared-for was. From their local Aldi to safari parks, their suggestions may give us further inspiration.

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“We found the Liverpool One shopping centre very accessible”
“Knowsley Safari park in Merseyside has a fully accessible changing room”
“If you don’t drive and getting public transport is too difficult, Driving Miss Daisy offer personalised lifts and general support for a day out or short break”
Eurodisney have many wheelchair accessible rides plus fantastic disability facilities”
Harlow Playhouse in Essex has the best wheelchair facilities for seeing a show. You have a fabulous view of the stage and your wheelchair does not block the view of others. Plus you’re right next to the ice cream when it comes out!”
“We love a drive through coffee shop and then go to a local car park that has lovely views”


And sometimes it’s the simple things that can make any trip out feel like a huge success:

“Our local Aldi is our favourite place to go! My adult son is autistic and very vulnerable. Over the years all the staff have treated him just like anybody else and have engaged him in conversation. It doesn’t take a lot but it means the world to us. So a big shout out to Aldi in Ashton in Makerfield.”


Final thoughts

We know first-hand that caring for someone can be challenging and we all need a break sometimes. Many of us aren’t able to go abroad due to the pandemic. And most vacations in the UK are expensive or fully booked.


The good news is, we can still plan a fun staycation with our cared-for and enjoy a much-needed change of scenery. The UK has loads of exciting and accessible visitor attractions on offer. This guide is designed to offer us inspiration. To help us overcome any barriers and to plan a memorable staycation with our the person we care for.



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What's next?

You are always welcome to join our virtual cuppas which run from Monday to Friday. For laughs, a fun chat and real deep conversations! If that is too big a step, visit our Facebook community to connect with other unpaid carers and see what they get up to.



About the author

Charlotte Murphy is a freelance writer focused on health & social care. From a young age, Charlotte volunteered at her local hospice and has helped her Mum care for her elderly grandmother. Now a writer, she aims to be an advocate for those in need. When she isn't writing, Charlotte can be found cooking up a storm in the kitchen or walking her spaniel, Ringo. Charlotte can be contacted here.