Going on holidays can be fraught with challenges like packing, booking travel, finding a hotel that suits everyone, and deciding on activities to do. For someone who lives with a disability, it can be even trickier.
When Adena and her family decided to take a holiday to the Gold Coast, Adena found she could make the whole process easier by connecting with a couple of independent support workers at her destination.
The end result was that her family “got to have a proper holiday”, which Adena says was of enormous importance to her.
Living with Motor Neurone Disease means that the 36-year-old Victorian mum uses a wheelchair, requires support with mobility, showering, and bed transfers – among other things. At home, she accesses support through Mable, a website that enables people with a disability to choose their own support workers.
“With the help of my eye gaze computer and my trusty support team at home, planning our family holiday was an enjoyable experience,” Adena says. “I always research venues and attractions before booking to make sure they’re wheelchair-friendly, and book ahead for the airline’s aisle wheelchair and some assistance to get on the plane. Travelling by air, I also have to reduce our bulky items, so I hire equipment like shower chairs, hoists, and over-toilet frames.”
“For this trip, I was able to rent a lift chair through MND Queensland, which meant I didn’t have to stay in my wheelchair whenever we were just chilling at the apartment.”
Knowing she would need support at the Gold Coast, Adena searched the profiles of independent support workers on mable.com.au. She found two people who she says made a world of difference to their holiday.
“They fed me, got me dressed and ready each day, and helped me when we were out and about,” Adena explains. “Back at our accommodation, they also helped keep the apartment tidy. They were an integral part of ensuring we had a relaxing holiday.”
“My hubby was able to have good fun with the kids without having to worry about me, which meant so much.”
When selecting her support team on the Gold Coast, Adena says she was keen to find people who were up for an adventure.
“The most important question I asked during each interview was: ‘what are your thoughts on rollercoasters?’. I also asked what they like to do in their spare time because it’s good to share some common interest. This was really easy to do via Mable’s job post and messaging functionality.”
Being fun, easy-going, and great with kids were other important criteria.
“And I also ask what led them to become a support worker. I want someone who cares and isn’t just doing it for a job.”
Adena’s family had a wonderful time visiting three big Gold Coast theme parks: Movie World, Sea World, and Wet’n’Wild.
“Going on the Superman ride at Movie World was a big highlight for me.” Adena smiles. “I’d been on it before I became unwell and while it was terrifying not knowing how my body would react, the adrenaline rush was worth it!”
Fun days on the beach and a day of exploring the coastline around Moreton Bay gave the family a quintessential Queensland experience. One of Adena’s favourite outings was to Miami Marketta night market, where live music, cocktails, and a selection of food trucks were on offer after dusk.
Adena says it’s important to look for solutions, rather than missing out on things you want to do. “If you love the beach, but are confined to a wheelchair, don’t let that stop you. Contact the local Surf Lifesaving Clubs. They generally have chairs you can hire. I love the Hippocampe because it’s low to the ground, so you feel like you’re sitting on the beach.”
When asked what she would recommend as the ideal way to spend just 24 hours at the Gold Coast, Adena was ready with an answer. “Wake up and go down to the beach to watch the sunrise. Go down to Surfers and have a yummy breakfast, then hop on a boat and have a cruise around the waterways. Stop for lunch at George’s in Sanctuary Cove. Then, pop over to Sea World to swim with the dolphins. Jump in a helicopter and experience the Gold Coast by air. Go back to the beach, have a little snooze, then have dinner at Rick Shores in Burleigh Heads.”
Find an independent support worker to travel with when you sign up for free at mable.com.au
This feature first appeared in Travel Without Limits magazine. You can subscribe here.