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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Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve

A lovely afternoon here and it’s right off the main road – so easy to get to.

Clocked up 2 miles following a straight path walk by some of the lakes. We got close to some bunnies, saw some busy bees nesting at the side of a bird hide and quite a few butterflies, dragonflies and damsel flies.

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A short video of the reserve.

 

 

 

 

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The paths were pretty good but you do need binoculars to see the water birds.  There are accessible toilets and smooth car park spaces. The Grebe Hide has a ramp to one of the windows but you can’t see the bird feeders or anything through the side windows. Kevin did the bee video for me to see what they were doing.

 

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Disabled people need better toilet facilities

Did you know there are 221 public toilets (provided by councils) in Kent (plus thousands of other places to use the toilet outside your home like businesses, cafes, shops, pubs,  tourist venues, service stations, ports, railways, airports, leisure complexes, retail outlets, supermarkets, parks and gardens, libraries….. bushes if you’re desperate…  you get the idea).

Here are all the council public toilets (in roughly mapped out council areas).

Public toilets in Kent

Now, for people with profound learning disabilities, brain injury, spinal injury, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, motor neurone disease… the picture is quite different.

If, you can not stand to take your weight or push up with your hands to transfer from, say, your wheelchair to the toilet,  the only way to get onto the toilet is using a hoist (or perhaps laying down on a changing bench to change pads/clothing).

If you go out with a carer or assistant, they may not be allowed to help you onto the toilet and insist on using a hoist.

People who need a hoist or changing bench (or plenty of room) look for what are called Changing Places (CP) toilets/hygiene rooms.

These are the TOTAL number of such toilets in Kent  – 24 (of which some are in day centres). Only 4 out of the 12 councils that cover Kent provide information about them on the ‘public toilet’ section of their web-sites.

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[Blue squares and red dots indicate 1 Changing Places toilet for public use]

Only one is located near a cinema, there are none located in hospitals, service stations, ports/railways/airports (there is one at Eurotunnel). The large central library in Kent does not have one and a new 2 million pound bowling centre in Maidstone doesn’t have one either (the cost of such a toilet being rather a drop in the ocean of a 2 million pound building).

Kent is a major gateway into the UK from Europe. The big tourist attractions like Leeds Castle and Chatham Dockyard have no such facility, neither does Canterbury town centre with its historic cathedral.

I worked in two Universities in Kent and neither had these facilities for disabled staff or students.

So what do people do?

Well, we either don’t go out or our assistants/family lift us onto the toilet floor to change pads etc or lift us onto the toilet. When I go out with my PAs – to the cinema, I have to limit what I drink and eat to be able to last until I get home.  It’s not safe, dignified or hygienic to live like this.

People who need these facilities can also do something else – raise awareness of what is needed, why they are so essential, provide information to venues and thank those who have considered the hygiene needs of thousands of people and their families.

More information about CP toilets in Kent

More information about CP toilets, where they are and how to install them.

Lazarus Mobility / Collins Mobility warning to customers

Summary: This is a warning for potential customers of Lazarus Mobility now trading as Collins Mobility and online as lazarusmobility.com. The company is based in West Yorkshire, UK.

Mr Collins, who runs the company, said he could supply us with a product (Biobidet). The product shipped was not the product ordered (different make  – Blooming Bidet). It was returned in the same packaging, immediately, on the promise of a full refund.  It has taken many phone calls, letters and e-mails to get Mr Collins to pay us even a partial refund and he has not responded to a small claim court to recover the money owing (over £300).

Customer Service has been appalling and it is our opinion that Mr Collin’s attitude of  “I do it because I want to help people (having an impairment himself) ” is not enough to run a business appropriately and within the law.

UPDATE:

A full refund was eventually made, settled out of court. Mr Collins continues to trade on E-bay under http://www.ebay.co.uk/usr/srcmobility – and is currently listing this item as a ‘Blooming Biobidet’.  Blooming Bidets are manufactured in Korea by NCCM Corporation and sold to selected distributers around the world. They are not from the company ‘Biobidet’ brand as inferred by srcmobility.