Woodlarks Campsite is designed to be accessible to campers with a variety of different disabilities, and therefore an equal variety of care needs. The site is equipped with two wash blocks which include toilets and bathrooms, including rooms with tracking hoists, shower beds, an accessible bath, closomat toilets, grab rails, adjustable sinks, changing tables, and sluice rooms. There is also a staffed laundry and a medical room, indoor beds (for those who need them) and a wheelchair charging station for powered chairs. The tents on site reflect a similar level of accessibility and include floored tents for the use of hoists and those with electricity for the use of overnight feeds. All our helpers receive basic instruction on how to use different equipment – including hoists – and manual handling. There will always be experienced helpers and the “Crew” team around to guide you and your helper until you are confident in your care routine.

Providing Personal Care

As we said earlier, Pathfinders Camp has been set up to provide holidays for women over 18 while meeting their care needs with sensitivity and a sense of professionalism. Whilst most of our helpers are women, we also recruit a number of male helpers. Personal care is provided almost exclusively by female helpers, but everyone can be a part of the team that ensures that nobody is left ‘sitting on the sidelines’.

Each disabled person has different personal care needs. The camper you will be assisting may need help with some or all of the following: getting in and out of bed; washing; dressing; going to the toilet; fetching and eating meals. Each camper will do things in the way that suits them best and you will need to work together on how to achieve this.

You will be working closely with a camper and may have to do some very personal things for them. Therefore establishing what they need doing, and how they like to be helped is really important. Always ask the camper how they would like something done. Ask if they can do it themselves, and encourage them to do so where practical. You may find that a lot of the help you provide is physically demanding, but you might also be paired with a camper who is quite physically able and needs other support with their personal care. Enabling a camper to feel safe and confident in managing their personal care and participating in camp life could be the best help you can give.

Your camper may be slow at doing some things and when watching them, you may think that they must be longing for help. However, as a helper, you must appreciate that often campers would rather do things for themselves slowly than let you do it, just because it is something they can do for themselves. Never rush in to help ‘just to save time’, as you may offend someone who is trying to be as independent as possible.

Receiving Personal Care

dsc_0148-3At Pathfinders, we hope you will feel confident in receiving quality personal care. As the personal care is provided by peer volunteers, this may at first be quite a learning curve on both sides! Remember, you are the expert in your care – but that also means that things may be quite new for your helper. Don’t be afraid to let your helper know what you can do, and be honest when you need help. You can discuss your care needs before camp with the Crew team through your application form or by email – each camper is carefully paired with a helper who can meet their needs and the more information you can give the better informed that pairing decision will be. If you find it difficult to communicate your care needs yourself, you may wish to bring a care plan to share between your camp helper and your normal carers when you arrive, this can also be a useful tool to help you explain as needs arise during the week. If you are struggling to settle into a routine with your helper, you can always talk together or ask advice from an experienced Pathfinder to help you get things sorted.