The Arches visit Disneyland Paris

Four residents at The Arches Care Home in Belfast have recently returned from a fantastic time in Disneyland Paris - the fourth time staff and residents from the home have made the trip. 

Home Manager Judy Brown explains how they prepare for the holiday and the benefits it has for residents and staff:

"We started taking residents to Disneyland Paris last year - with different residents given the opportunity each time so as many people as possible are able to enjoy the experience.

"As all our residents have a learning disability it can be a daunting journey, so preparation starts a few months before leaving. We show residents pictures of how they will get there and what will happen during their stay. This includes photographs of what happens at an airport and how you get on a plane, as some of our party have mobility issues and are wheelchair bound. We also do a recce of Belfast International airport the week before and staff there give them a tour of the airport.

"The residents are also shown pictures of the hotel and watch lots of DVDs of the theme park so they have an idea of what to expect when they arrive. Very few of our residents have passports so applications are made for these, and we obtain letters from the GP allowing residents to avoid a long wait at the rides and permitting staff to carry liquid medication on the plane. These are just a few of the requirements on a long checklist - it's a busy time for the staff involved and we all learn something new with each trip.

"The excitement that builds before each trip is unbelievable, as new clothes are bought and cases packed.

"Once they arrive at Disneyland Paris the day is spent in the theme parks - going on rides, watching shows and having as much fun as possible. The Arches has a Facebook page so all the relatives can follow their adventures while they are away. This is a very beneficial as some of our residents do not have any verbal communication - but to see the joy on their faces is what makes it so worthwhile.

"The impact of these trips carries on in many different ways when they return - for example one resident fell in love with the character Belle, so we invited local students to come into the home and paint a mural on her bedroom wall. Without doubt the most frequently asked question on return is 'When can I go again?'

"We do our best to ensure each resident has a holiday every year; Blackpool is another favourite, while others prefer to stay closer to home and go to Strangford for a couple of nights.

"All the holidays are incredibly special experiences for our residents and it's also very rewarding for staff to facilitate the trips and witness the pleasure they bring".

Date published: 9 January 2019

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