As the song goes “I get by with a little help from my friends”, well Sandpipers, a holiday centre run by Revitalise to create revitalising holidays for disabled people and carers, certainly lives up to this ethos.
Sandpipers, a lovely centre sitting on Marine Lake, north of Southport is like the Green Sandpiper bird that the holiday centre is named after, very rare and very special.
My sister who has Down’s Syndrome and I joined our host Darren, General Manager and his amazing staff for a three-day break at this special place. Why special you may ask? Revitalise has created a fully accessible holiday centre for disabled people to enjoy a much-needed break, with or without their carer.
The purpose-built, fully accessible accommodation has specialist equipment, hoists and profiling beds with airflow mattresses for the comfort of the guests. Two large lifts take you from the reception and some guest rooms to the dining room and lounge/bar. Call systems are in place throughout the centre and a qualified team of Registered Nurses and Holiday Care Assistants are very well trained to help with the needs of guests. This seamless package includes 24-hour care, which enhances the feeling that you are in a safe and secure environment.
With 55 years of experience, Revitalise are professionals when it comes to catering for disabled guests. It is a place that makes you feel relaxed and welcome as you come through the door. The reception is warm and friendly, and a member of staff will take you to your room and help you get acquainted with your surroundings. Help is given to unpack your case and the Nursing team will arrive to see you and take the details of your medication and needs.
The quality of hospitality at Sandpipers is excellent. The full board arrangements are a cooked breakfast, good lunches, or if you are out on one of the many trips a packed lunch is provided. The evening meal is a treat with a starter of your choice plus the main meal and a dessert with tea or coffee to follow. The 7-night breaks begin on a Monday and the support packages start from £26 per night to £134 per night depending on your care support needs.
The volunteers come from all walks of life, bringing lots of needed energy and laughter. Some doing their Duke of Edinburgh certificate, some from college wanting to train as paramedics, so experience is gained at the centre. Some are from Europe or even as far away as Australia to get the experience they need to work and help guests have a truly memorable stay.
The Revitalise Care Staff are brilliant, and always have a smile on their faces. The interaction with the guests is amazing. They see the person, listen to the person and work around what the person needs and wants.
My sister Julie has learning difficulties and always enjoys holidays or breaks away from her care home. Being at Sandpipers gave her and me the chance to relax and be around likeminded people in similar situations. The Revitalise staff spoke to Julie, not me, when asking her a question. This was refreshing as often people don’t see the person who has a disability and typically speak to the carer. After a short while, all the staff knew Julie’s name and engaged so well with her.
We also hired a wheelchair for Julie as she sometimes has walking difficulties. If you wish to hire a wheelchair, you can contact the centre and they will arrange a local firm to drop a wheelchair off for you and then take it away when you leave.
The trips and outings are planned with precision and Sandpipers have three specialised buses that can accommodate wheelchair users. We visited Liverpool and saw the Blackpool Illuminations plus there were trips to Bolton Market and Oswaldtwistle Hall. All are included in the cost of the holiday, except the entry fees, and a good day out is had by the guests who are fully supported by the care staff and volunteers.
It’s worth noting that Revitalise caters for a variety of different people and disabilities. People are brought together because they are looking for a holiday that offers them the chance to try new things, make new friends and enjoy live entertainment. Sandpipers is an uplifting centre, but one does have times when it can be very emotional, but everyone comes away with a spirit of wellbeing, friendship and a wish to return.
Many guests return two or three times per year to meet up with friends they have made at Revitalise. Whether you choose to come on your own or with a carer, a sense of relaxation and wellbeing surrounds you. One guest told me if she brings her carer it ‘cramps her style’ – well she certainly had style and was really enjoying herself.
Sandpipers also boasts a hydro-pool – the only centre out of the three to do so – which is used for pleasure and exercise by the guests. It is warm water which is ‘just what the doctor ordered’. It is well used and with the help of staff and volunteers the guests can take full advantage of the pool whatever their disability. A hairdresser, aromatherapy massage and beauty treatments are also available for all guests.
The entertainment at the centre ranges from the well-planned outings to the speciality themed weeks. Quiz Nights, Bingo and evening entertainment are included with live singers and comedians. There is also a bar and lounge area to sit with your new-found friends.
Sandpipers also has dedicated weeks for those aged 18-40 called Club Revitalise, weeks for the Young at Heart and specialised weeks throughout the year called Treasured Moments for guests with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. This is the versatility of the Revitalise Team as they work hard to ensure that their guests get the right support and the carer gets the chance to relax knowing that someone is around to help with their loved one.
Sandpipers is one of three holiday centres that Revitalise own. Jubilee Lodge is in Chigwell, Essex, positioned on the edge of Epping Forest. Netley Waterside House is in Southampton, Hampshire, and boasts a landscaped garden that leads down to the Southampton Waters. All three centres are of a high standard and have won many awards.
As a national charity, there are many ways to support Revitalise and help their worthwhile cause from organising fundraising events, coffee mornings, marathons and much more.
Life is a box of chocolates said Forest Gump – you never know what you’re gonna get! Well, life can be very difficult for many disabled people, but their life still goes on in whatever shape the ‘chocolate’ is.
Revitalise offer a holiday experience to be with caring, wonderful people and, ultimately, allows the disabled person and carer to get the break they deserve.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Revitalise Respite Holidays.