No room at the Inn – well no bed to be precise.

About 9 months ago the dates for the Firework Championships were announced – so we quickly booked into the Holiday Inn, Plymouth. I’ve written a separate blog post on our holiday.

We had chosen the Holiday Inn based on personal and practical requirements. The location meant we could walk to see the fireworks, it had parking and was one of the few places to have air con (as I need to keep the air cool because of my ventilator mask which otherwise gets really hot and uncomfortable)

At the time of booking the only wheelchair accessible room available was one with a double bed.

Out of 211 rooms there are only 2 with wide doors etc and a larger bathroom for wheelchair users which is rather poor. The chances of getting a twin room in hotels with so few rooms are slim.

 

We made the wrong assumption

 

bed

 

When we have stayed at other similar places (Premier Inn, Travel Lodge and even other Holiday Inns etc) where we can only get a double bed, we have been offered a camp / folding bed or sofa bed.

I have to take my pressure relief mattresses, turning equipment that goes under the mattress etc and I use a ventilator – so sleeping in a double bed with my husband isn’t an option. However, he has to be next to me to make sure I’m ok and to help me during the night.

Just before we went I spoke to them on the phone to ask for the folding bed and was told they had a policy not to provide these. Also, if we wanted second room for a carer (which wasn’t adjoining through an internal door, so wouldn’t have been any good for us anyway) we’d have to pay for it.

 

 

Making it possible to stay for work or leisure

Hotels have to make ‘reasonable’ adjustment, under UK  equality law,  to enable disabled guests to use their services – including providing aids and equipment. I’m assuming this is why the portable bed is often provided for carers in other places.

Another example is that if a person can not use the bath they can request a bath lift at one of the major hotel chains. Another chain offers low beds that can be raised on blocks to suit different height requirements.  It can make the difference between going or not going on holiday.

Also, it’s not only holidays that are the problem,  I’ve been to many hotels in the past for business trips, attending conferences or running training events for my company – and it really made working life difficult.

Basically, affordable, portable equipment that can help a range of guests have a much better stay are one of the things they can do for customers.

An apology

Holiday Inn isn’t cheap, we didn’t want to pay double and we needed and wanted to sleep near each other. My husband didn’t want to sleep on the floor – so on principle we felt unwanted and cancelled – moving to the Future Inn.

Since then, we have had an apology from Holiday Inn after I made a complaint. The manager was very polite and wrote in detail about the facilities they do have and the training provided for staff. He also explained that they do have a policy of offering a free room for carers and will consider a portable bed.  I hope this is a real genuine consideration.

I would like them to understand that things like a portable bed would have made all the difference and is better than the other option of us taking a camp bed or my husband sleeping on the floor.

I suspect many other people are in the same boat as us (from what my friends have been saying) and I know some wheelchair users who sleep in their chairs because of the ‘bed’ problem. It’s hard finding accommodation when most hotels only make 1% of their rooms wheelchair accessible.

Access for people with mobility impairments is more than wide doors and a few grab rails – its also about giving accurate information so that people can decided where they want to spend there money. We need a higher proportion of accessible rooms to choose from – that have been designed in a way that will benefit a wider proportion of disabled guests – not just mobile wheelchair users who don’t need assistance.

 

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Our trip to Plymouth for the British Firework Championships 2014

Fireworks

About 9 months ago the dates for the two nights of fireworks were released – so we quickly booked the two of us into a hotel in Plymouth. I’ve done a separate blog on why we had to cancel our original booking with Holiday Inn.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, Kevin would have had to sleep on the floor as they didn’t have a temporary camp/sofa bed in the room like other places we have stayed – so we booked a room at the Future Inn.

Back to the Future?

Not quite – we won’t be going back to the Future Inn – for one reason which is particular to people like me who need a pressure relief mattress. You see, the Inn was lovely, staff were nice, we had two double beds, easy parking and a wet room / shower – yet once we had put my mattress on the bed it was too high to get on!

Incidentally, you couldn’t use a hoist neither as the bed plinth was wooden down to the carpet. Also, there was so much furniture in the room I couldn’t get to the bed without scraping my power chair along the bed on one side and the fixed table on the other. There was little room to turn – you went in forward and generally came out backwards.

So for our requirements we really struggled with Kevin having to lift me on the bed and then from the bed onto my mattress.  We rarely have this problem as in other places the beds have been lower – with the option to raise them on blocks in some places. This suits everyone – but this Inn have yet to understand the true meaning of ‘access for all’ or at least ‘most’!

IMG_2954

Top left – This is Sibel, my portable hair washing basin we take in case I can’t reach the sink or I’m too tired to shower. Top right – my new modified shower chair/toilet chair. Bottom left – the crazy small gap to get through to get to the side of the bed. Bottom right – the nice bed we destroyed to put my mattress and things on for me to use it.

On the plus side, we got to see how our modified toilet chair worked in practice and I was able to have a shower for the first time in about 5 years which was rather nice considering I only ever have a sink wash.

Fireworks Night 1

So no fireworks in the bedroom aside deep frustration …. but loads of them out on the Hoe. The first night we drove to the Park and Ride a few minutes up the road. We were dropped off in the town and walked nearly a mile, with the rest of the Pyro maniacs, onto the Hoe for the giant showdown.

There were thousands of people as we expected, a fun fair and the usual array of chip and donut vans. However, we didn’t anticipate on the fireworks being set off far below us on the water (we were basically on a cliff). Even at their highest they weren’t visible overhead- so you needed a clear line of sight to the sea.

Their were 3 displays each night. However, once the tall fat lady stood in front of me I couldn’t even see the sky! I stared at her rounded behind and saw nothing of the first set, about 40% of the second set leaning out the side of my chair around her chubby thighs and about 90% of the third set.

All in all, not so successful. We drove hundreds of miles to see a fat lady’s bum …. not what I had imagined! Incredibly frustrating.  Kevin took a video so I watched that instead.

Tomorrow we would try plan B – arrive hours early and pick a different viewing point.

On the up side, we stood next to a Chinese guy with a mental health problem who was muttering all sorts of random sentences for the duration, whilst doing throat singing and waving his arms in pure delight at the pops and bangs. He was having so much fun oohing and ahhhing in-between the mutterings that we were sucked up into the bubble of pure joy that was emanating from him. That was more magic than the fireworks.

IMG_2955

turtle

 

Earlier on in the day we went to the aquarium to get a fish fix – that was really good and they had good food. You can’t go wrong watching a turtle or jellyfish.  As is customary I took 200 blurry blue photos of fish and videoed the jellies.

It was nearly 2.30 by the time we got to bed, the queue to the park and ride was longer than anything you’ve ever seen at Disney.  So, we got in and the night ended with hubs throwing me onto the bed, quite literally.  ZZZzzzzz

Fireworks Night 2

train1

train2

After a day on the South Devon Railway (great access, friendly staff and a lovely journey), we put into action Plan B. We parked at the aquarium around 6pm to get a place in the multi-storey, went for dinner, then ambled round to the front of the aquarium where we had a great view of the fireworks. Away from the funfair, the crowds were less dense and more civilised! It was nice and quiet with the gentle hum of people wondering if it was ever going to start after a 30 minute technical glitch. There were 3 sets on night two – each company got the usual 10 minutes to show off what they could do.

harbour

I was sat next to a small child by the harbour railing. She was about six years old and stood as close as she could to my side and just stared silently and intensely at me for a whole 10 minutes during set 2 . Alas I was trying to watch the fireworks so there wasn’t the time for conversation. The thing was, I could feel her breathing down my neck and as I turned my head to see what she was doing we met virtually nose to nose. She still had a perplexed look on her face, clinging like a limpet to my armrest which started me laughing. I give her top marks for her endurance and finding me more amazing than the fireworks she was missing. Maybe she was a robot child or something – who knows.

So it was another late night and after more mountaineering we made it into bed.

Day 3

Going home day. A nice late checkout, we went home via a slight detour for Kevin to do some bridge spotting. Now, what he didn’t tell me was to get to the bottom of the Tamar bridge, at Saltash, to take a photo, involved the steepest road you’ve ever seen in your life – the sort you would normally go down on foot attached to a rope and harness. How anyone can live on that hill is beyond me.  This little escapade also meant driving over the bridge twice – with only a little barrier on the way back to stop you plummeting to your death. Lovely.