Time for a break, I thought. All the usual, get away from it all, eat well, visit new places of interest, have a few drinks in the bar, meet and greet new people etc., etc. But wait, we are Brexiting The European Union. The pound is down (temporarily, I hope) against most currencies. Greece has problems of its own and Spain, Italy, Portugal and even France are in the financial doldrums. I can cope with assisted international travel but the occasion has to be well planned in advance, assistance organised through several stages of each journey and, of course, paid for in full.
So on this occasion, after a survey of nearby alternatives (too few to mention) when I needed to take a two week break away from my usual home and carer (the wife), I chose to return to the local Revitalise Centre in Southampton – Netley Waterside House.
In advance of my stay, a member of the nursing staff made contact to prepare or review and update my personalised ‘Care Plan’ which included all aspects of my care needs and personal preferences. Every aspect of my stay was addressed. The value of this practice can only be determined by personal test. In my case, my stay had a shaky start in that the single room I thought I had booked for the first few days, had been changed to a shared room. The manager apologised but confirmed that nothing that could be done as they were fully occupied. After internal investigation, an administrative error was discovered and I was offered a substantial discount off a future visit. (Which I intend to take quite soon).
The Buck’s Fizz Welcome with nibbles was a nice touch, as was the invite to afternoon tea for my transporters for the day (son and daughter-in-law).
The welcome was cordial, efficient and respectful. From the chaos of powered and manual wheelchairs blocking the entrance hall, (Is ‘a chaos’ the correct collective noun for a mass of wheelchairs?), new guests were appraised of impending trips and showed to their rooms where luggage had already been unpacked and stowed away.
Managers, Care Staff, Nurses and Volunteers.
Revitalise have helpfully remodelled their uniforms to distinguish between different personnel and their roles in the centre. White or casual for volunteers but with a name badge, green for domestics, pink for care staff, black with pink piping for nurses and plain black for management. I had the impression that was not just a case of staff discipline but fully accepted and enjoyed by guests and staff members alike, some staff wearing two or more ‘uniform’ colours as they did different shifts.
Guests can quickly and easily identify which person is best able to provide each help, medical or nursing tasks. If you needed help with your laptop or smartphone, best ask a student volunteer from Korea or China!
The Centre is set in its own grounds with views of the Solent and some magnificent, mature trees including palm.
The service offers mainly respite breaks for one or two weeks for people with disabilities, together with their partner or carer if desired. There is limited reference within the brochure and advertising material to the restricting disabilities of guests which I found appropriate and positive as it reflects the approach adopted by Revitalise personnel. The Centre, it’s staff and volunteers are focused on what guests are able to do for themselves, or can be enabled to do with help, while on holiday. Mealtimes are mainly communal affairs with assistance ranging from ‘serve yourself’ to ‘personal feeding’ or cutting if you are having difficulty manipulating the cutlery. Volunteers were expected to join tables and make themselves available to help if requested or to just chat if desired. Mainly foreign students, volunteers also have interesting stories to tell.
My fellow guests
The mix of people with whom I shared my time at Revitalise was diverse and represented many levels of ability. Unlike a normal 3 or 4 star hotel, there was a refreshing openness and willingness to communicate in whatever way they could. Two or three people used pointing boards or Stephen Hawking type speaking computers but whatever the method, my general impression was of ‘delight’ and ‘enjoyment’ that was tangible and always present.
Trips and excursions
The two weeks of my visit had a number of organised trips ( http://revitalise.org.uk/respite-holidays/our-centres/netley-waterside-house/things-to-do/) many of which were of interest to me like an adapted boat tour round the Solent and a day visit to The National Motor Museum at Beaulieu. https://www.beaulieu.co.uk/attractions/national-motor-museum/ I was not able to make use of these facilities as I felt unfit on the day however as with any activity, it was my decision.
Besides relaxing in the centre’s beautiful surroundings and watching the ships go by, guests may participate in exercise classes, arts and crafts sessions, quizzes and bingo or even enjoy the Friday night party! Offering plenty of places to relax and socialise, plus evening entertainment, Netley Waterside House provides ample opportunity to have fun and really let your hair down.
Alternatively, slip into the licensed bar for a quiet drink or three. Providing you can catch someone to serve. Normally open till late (11.00p.m. ish), some staff close up early if too few guests are waiting. Best to ask early. Most nights include musical entertainers and some groups have decent singers from pop through jazz to classic folk. On Kareoke evenings, see if you can get the Korean volunteers to sing ‘Gan Gam style’ in the original language.
And yes, the quality of my holiday snaps gets a bit blurred after my third drink!
I did have a problem overnight if I needed to pull the alarm chord for help. On one occasion this did not work properly and an indicator did not show. Management commented that the entire system, currently reliant on batteries, is to be renewed. As an early riser, I found that I was sometimes left in bed for two or three hours before two members of care staff could be made available. This is an intractable problem when there are periods of staff shortage and I am the equivalent of a beached wale. The facilities in the en-suit bathrooms however, were easily accessed with ceiling track hoists from bed to wc/bath/shower. The hand basin was adjustable for height.
Was I Revitalised’ by my experience at Netley? I believe I was. So, I can honestly say that in my case, “it does exactly what it says on the tin!” Not cheap but worth every penny.
Iain Leslie September 2016