Clap for carers? How about a holiday?
As the summer approaches and lockdown restrictions are slowly lifted, many people in the UK are rushing to book holidays, with holiday letting agencies reporting a surge in enquiries. It’s not surprising, the experience of lockdown and being told for months that we’re not allowed to travel has taught us all the true value of holidays.
Who cares for the carers?
But for the unpaid carers of people living with dementia around the UK, that feeling is exacerbated and holiday solutions aren’t so easy to find. The COVID crisis has had a devastating effect on the lives of people living with dementia, their families and the people who care for them, with the feelings of loneliness and social isolation hugely compounded in lockdown.
Research from Alzheimer’s Association has shown that people with dementia and their carers have been one of the worst affected communities in the pandemic, with 95% of carers reporting a negative impact on their mental or physical health. Alongside struggling with increased isolation, depression insomnia and exhaustion, COVID has also robbed many carers of the lifelines of daycare and respite care that allows them to take a break.
But for so many unpaid carers of people with dementia, a break seems out of the question. A shocking statistic that has emerged is that 40% of family carer carry out this work for more than 100 hours per week - that is more than double the legal work limit in the UK and to keep this up for months on end with no prospect of a break or a holiday is beyond comprehension for most!
Building forward better
Covid has given us the opportunity as a society to build back better, and with a third of disabled people in the UK feeling as though holidays in British hotels aren't accessible enough for them, there is a real need to create a big change in the tourism industry.
That’s where MindforYou step in. A Community Benefit Society, MindforYou opens the world of holidays and leisure for these overstretched carers and the people they care for, ensuring they don't get forgotten about. MindforYou provides personalised, small group UK holidays in dementia-friendly holiday properties with support available from 9 till 9. When holidays weren’t possible they developed interactive and personalised small group digital sessions, bring that holiday feeling directly into people’s homes..
Carol Sargent, founder of MindforYou has already seen an increase in enquiries from people looking to book a holiday with them for 2021 with some of their planned holidays already filled. Carol says:
“We’ve spoken to people who have been caring for loved ones with dementia without a break for over a year. They are literally desperate for a break and they know that the service we provide will mean they can relax and enjoy their holiday as we lift much of the everyday stress of caring for someone with dementia. It gives them something to look forward to and creates those all-important special feelings for the person living with dementia and wonderful memories for their family carer”
Holidays with dignity
The team at MindforYou are experts in organising and running holidays based on the needs of people with dementia and their families, their vision is to ensure tourism becomes inclusive for all. Their holidays are aimed at meeting the needs of people affected by dementia who can no longer enjoy regular holidays. Their ethos is about providing bespoke breaks that are centred around dignity and choice - not care - so they take the time to get to know each of their guests well in advance so they know they’ll get a personalised service - even down to the choice of biscuits available!
Guests on their holidays enjoy luxury dementia-friendly accommodation in beautiful settings around the UK, with home-cooked high-quality food, whilst being supported with the expert services offered by MindforYou staff. For carers who have been struggling with the strain of day-to-day care for so long on their own, the breaks are a chance for them to enjoy some quality time with their loved ones, creating precious memories and giving them some peace of mind. All creating that special environment for relaxation, fun activities and making those special new friendships.
Holidays that change lives
Jim and Sylvia Wallace went on the first-ever MindforYou holiday back in 2015 and have been big fans ever since. The couple from Somerset married in their 60s in 2003 – only for Sylvia to be diagnosed with dementia just seven years later.
As Sylvia’s main carer, Jim had tried other holiday providers, but none of them were able to provide the necessary support. So when he heard about MindforYou’s debut trip to his native Scotland, he was hesitant at first.
“It was the fear of the unknown, I suppose. But on that holiday I could feel all my problems falling away. Everyone was so caring. When I tried to say thank you on the final day, I became very emotional.”
As Sylvia’s condition has progressed, she has become more reliant on a wheelchair and has particular catering needs. Dealing with unfamiliar places and experiences can be especially stressful – but not with MindforYou. Jim and Sylvia have now been on no fewer than nine MindforYou holidays, and former lorry driver Jim even recommends them to others he knows are living with dementia.
“Every trip feels like a proper holiday and Sylvia loves going. We’re always doing fun things and the days fly by. The MindforYou team have been absolutely fantastic, I even get told off if I try to do too much of the caring!
“I just wish I had the money to go even more often but still, MindforYou offers incredible value. They always talk to us in advance so they’re ready to meet every single one of our needs. But it’s the number of staff on the holidays and how caring they are which makes the real difference. MindforYou is simply the best thing ever to happen to me.”
Sharing the knowledge
The focus of MindforYou is supporting people living with dementia. Carol Sargent told us how MindforYou are keen to share everything they have learnt to help other hospitality and leisure companies become more accessible “Getting involved in the Visit England/Scotland dementia-friendly travel and tourism guide made us realise just how much we have learnt and we are keen to share this with as many people as possible so more families living with dementia can look forward to that special holiday. There is also so much scope for people with other chronic illnesses and their families to rediscover that special holiday. We at MindforYou are looking forward to sharing our knowledge and business model with others to help them create a more accessible world of tourism where people are not limited or defined by their disease, but as individuals enjoying special time with families and friends.
MindforYou have recently launched a community share offer
on the Ethex platform to raise £450,000 to help them grow their business. Funds from the share offer will help the organisation reach even more families suffering from the social isolation that dementia can bring and help them share their knowledge with other organisations to make this kind of supported tourism more widely available for carers of people with a range of debilitating conditions.
You can help them by investing from £500 and the first £275,000 invested will attract a target return of 4% (3% thereafter). Investments are also eligible for EIS tax relief, so investors can claim a 30% income tax reduction on the amount invested. The investment has also benefitted from match-funding of £50,000 from the Peoples’ Postcode Lottery.
Carol says: “We’re delighted with the initial response to the share offer, it’s great to see so many people wanting to use their investments to create a positive impact on the lives of people living with dementia. For anyone thinking about investing, I’d say go for it! Your money really will help us to do so much more. Every investor will be instrumental in creating happier lives!”
Please note that capital is at risk and returns are not guaranteed. Tax relief is subject to individual status.