Our volunteers are crucial to our work – in fact, we wouldn’t be able to run our holidays without them! Supporting on our breaks can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but what exactly is it like to volunteer on a Dementia Adventure holiday?
We asked volunteer Jo to walk you through a day in her life on a supported break to give you a first-hand account of what it involves.
“First thing in the morning, it’s getting up and supporting with those first cups of teas and coffees when people emerge, and helping with organising breakfast. We don’t help with personal care, but if you detect a carer needs a little bit of extra support you might drop them a tea in the room. I’ve also known family carers to come down and have a chat over a cup of tea before they go off to support their loved one with getting dressed. Sometimes it’s just a chance for them to have a bit of an offload before the day starts. Those little things can make a real difference.
“During the day you’ll often be doing practical things, like going to the loo with somebody if their companion isn’t the same gender as them. Or maybe you’ll prepare the picnic, and help make sure everybody has theirs. It’s also just about chatting to people and supporting them to get involved in all the different activities, encouraging them to try things that they wouldn’t normally try, like having a paddle in the sea or stroking the donkeys at the donkey sanctuary.”
“When you get back to the accommodation, you settle everyone in. That could mean getting everyone a cup of tea and piece of cake, and just making sure that everybody’s included and having a good time. If a carer needs a bit of respite, you might spend some time with the person they care for. While in Devon, we supported two of the men living with dementia while their female carers spent some time in the hot tub with a drink. It was something they would never usually get the chance to do! Later you prepare the evening meal, and then afterwards it varies — one night this holiday we did a load of dancing. It varies hugely from day to day.”
“You need to be prepared to throw yourself into whatever’s going on and just have a bit of fun. You’re helping to make it fun — it’s a holiday, so you want to support people to enjoy that. The most important thing is being there as a point of support as and when needed, and supporting the leader. I think that teamwork is really important, because it is quite intense. You start before 8am and by the time you’ve done a report in the evening it’s 10:30-11pm, so it’s a long, intense day, but it’s also incredibly rewarding and enjoyable. You just want people to have the best time that they can.”