Behind the scenes at Dementia Adventure there is a fantastic team. Each team member has the desire to support and improve the lives of those living with dementia and their carers.
Caroline volunteered to be part of a team taking four men living with dementia and their wives on a ‘Take Five’ holiday to Godshill Park Farm on the Isle of Wight. The requirements of each person living with dementia were varied. Two of the men had difficulties with mobility, others had difficulties with speech. The holiday was well planned to make sure there was something for everyone, including trips to the botanical gardens, Osborne House, a ride on a steam train and a visit to the animals on the farm itself.
“The balance of activities was just right. Each couple had a volunteer to themselves enabling the carers to have a bit of a break and volunteers swapped around a bit so that everyone got a chance to get to know one another.”
Caroline said that being around the couples for a whole week gave her some insight into life with dementia and told us,
“I felt a lot of compassion. Things we take for granted, like mealtimes, become difficult. There was a moment one dinner time when I felt so moved by these couples and what they overcome. I learnt that everyone who lives with dementia is different – each with their own personality and their own story. I felt I grew as a person on this holiday by observing and supporting the others.”
The holiday was a real success, demonstrated by some comments made by the couples after the holiday:
“The volunteers were imperative to a wonderful holiday.”
“Fantastic, magical, beyond what we expected.”
“It enabled us to holiday together but I still got a rest because the volunteers, who were so caring, made all the difference.”
Caroline noticed that three of the men had very little speech when they arrived and by the end were chatting together as friends – their personalities and sense of humour shining through. This was a real highlight for her.
“I feel extremely privileged to have supported this wonderful group of people. Saying goodbye at the end of the holiday was emotional. I would definitely volunteer again. I can see that it really does make a difference.”
Dementia Adventure’s ethos is that getting people with dementia outdoors and connected with nature really does improve wellbeing. This is a great volunteering opportunity for those with an interest in the outdoors and all kinds of outdoor activity Those who have worked with people living with dementia or cared for someone themselves may find this a rewarding volunteering role.
Training and support is provided and volunteers are not expected to provide personal care.