A bit about me
Following an accident in 2011, I became disabled and subsequently was diagnosed an incurable, progressive syndrome as well as another incurable, although not progressive, syndrome secondary to the first. Personally I think that one is sufficient so I figure I have been a bit greedy by acquiring two! The result of these is that I have a variety of care needs centring on poor mobility and I use a wheelchair, plus I have poor concentration and memory difficulties as I am in constant pain. You may be reading this and wondering why I haven’t included any photos of myself. Well, like many other people with health / disability issues, I am quite self-conscious of how I appear to others so you will have to rely on my words here and I hope that these ‘speak’ to you. However, I am fortunate in that, not only can I direct my own care, but I am blessed with a wonderful husband, Andrew, and he looks after me.
Before setting (or is that jetting?) off
Prior to our stay via Unicocare in Spain, I completed a risk assessment form and sent this through and advised them of my care needs. Both Andrew and I are very independently-minded and we prefer to get on with things ourselves as much as possible, although we know that it is likely that there will come a time in the future where I will need more assistance and perhaps Andrew may benefit from some respite from his caring role. Checking out the facilities at the two resorts on offer was an ideal way for us to plan for our future and consider how we might address future respite care.
My advice to those considering a stay is to be quite clear and open about your needs and how you prefer your care needs to be met. If you already have a written care plan, you may wish to share this with the staff in advance so they can prepare for your arrival.
Testing to the max
A good guest blogger, in my view, should test things out to the maximum. My first real taste of the care available to us was the morning after our arrival on the Costa Blanca. The bathroom in our suite was fully accessible with a folding grab rail to the right of the loo; a wheelchair accessible sink and a level access shower with grab rail at waist height as well as full height to the side. My husband assisted me as usual with washing in the shower and then left me to rinse off, using the available grab rails as required. I am pleased to say that the conclusion of my testing of the shower is that, yes, it is an extremely powerful shower, and my testing of the slip resistant tiles in the bathroom concluded that, yes, they are highly effective!
Posse of carers
A while later, I was dry, dressed, and my macquillage complete but we were still laughing when, promptly at 9.00am, three female members of staff arrived with mobile shower chair and plenty of extra towels to assist me with getting up, showering and dressing. I declined their assistance for future days simply because, as long as my husband and I can manage ourselves, I would prefer this. However, I was reassured that the staff had given us the option of assistance and they explained that, if we changed our minds, then they would happily help me with my activities of daily living as necessary.
One of the things that we did not decline, though, was the room service breakfast which was brought to us each day. Who wouldn’t want to have such a civilised start to the day as breakfast in bed … or al fresco on our patio … or in our lounge? It was bliss and consisted of eggs, bacon, tomatoes, a platter of cold ham and cheese, assorted yogurts, chilled pineapple juice, toast, jam, and freshly brewed aromatic coffee. This selection was what we chose but I am sure that any specific other requests could easily be accommodated with perhaps some advance notification.
In my accident I suffered a spinal injury and I need frequent massages to help alleviate pain and also to help prevent spasms and maintain what mobility I have. Accordingly, a kind female physiotherapist called Marta worked on my spine during our stay at the Costa Blanca resort. Not only did she stretch my spine to alleviate the decompression but she put her hands to good effect with a blissful, soothing, relaxing massage. I was offered the opportunity to take part in an Aqua Gym session that are held regularly in the Costa Blanca resort in the indoor pool but, as my accident involved water, I have been left with anxiety issues where water is concerned so I opted to stick with a massage on terra firma. In addition to the indoor pool which is available from 10.30am to 8.00pm, there is an unattended outdoor one available from 9.00am to 9.00pm.
The physiotherapy department is well equipped with parallel bars to practise walking, plus steps, wall bars, pedal cycles, gym balls, weights, plus equipment to work on fine finger movement and dexterity. In the event that someone has had either a CVA (Cardio Vascular Accident or stroke) or similar, or perhaps has had some surgery such a knee or hip replacement, I can see that there may be scope to continue their rehabilitation in some more relaxed and sunny surroundings here, supervised by a qualified physiotherapist. I use a stationary exercise bike when I can and I was pleased to see that there was an exercise bike available in the well-equipped gym and, if you already have a planned exercise programme, I think it would be possible to continue with this whilst you are on holiday here.
Other care services
There are nurses and auxiliary nurses on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week and these can be summoned in an emergency by the alarm call buttons by the bed or in the bathroom, or, routinely, by the telephone which was situated by the bed.
There is a doctor available from 9.00am to 1.00pm Monday to Friday; from 4.00pm to 7.00pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; and from 10.00am to 12.00pm on Saturday. I did not avail myself of the services of the doctor at the Costa Blanc resort but, please note that I said earlier that a good guest blogger should test to the max … more of this later!
I am able to self-medicate but I observed the nursing staff doing drug rounds at lunch and evening meals.
There are a number of other services available such as psychology, and groups for people with cognition issues for example.