“We’re all going on a Summer Holiday…..”
Or so Cliff Richard sang, as some of you of a certain vintage might remember. It’s fast approaching the time when many of us turn our thoughts to our own summer breaks and, indeed, I may well be off on my own travels as you read this. For those of you who don’t know me that well, I have confession to make – there must be some nomadic blood in me, as my idea of a holiday is to hitch up my caravan to the car and head off to, hopefully, sunnier climes. For about the last seventeen years my wife and I have spent our summer break travelling down through France and venturing into Northern Spain on a couple of occasions. We tend to go early in the summer because it is both quieter and cheaper – yes, I’m miserable and tight-fisted, that’s now three things you didn’t know (well, maybe you did!).
Something I have noticed every summer while in France is the number of, shall we say, more mature, UK citizens who also take advantage of the off season prices and the lull before the high season rush. People, well into their 60s, 70s and quite a few into their 80s travelling around the villages and scenic areas of France in their motorhomes or with their caravans in tow all enjoying the relaxing lifestyle. When you have worked for many years in caring for older people settings it can become easy to forget that growing old does not necessarily mean admission to a care home, package of care in your own home or even just severely curtailing your style of life. There are many, many older people now enjoying life to the full as those folk I have met on my travels demonstrate. Most, if not all, of the Scottish Care Integration and Improvement Leads will work alongside other partners in workgroups looking at ways of promoting health and enabling us all to enjoy our lives to the maximum potential for as long as it is possible. The Falls Prevention groups, the ongoing work in promoting good nutrition, encouraging active lifestyles, stroke prevention etc. When you see these older people enjoying an active, healthy lifestyle it does reinforce how important the health promotion work is and the very obvious gains that are potentially to be had.
Still on the holiday theme, when I worked in Care Homes it was very common that when you entered a resident’s room you would notice family photographs displayed, either on the wall or on a dressing table. Often these would be holiday snaps from trips taken many years past, small faded black and white snaps or perhaps even some colour photos but with that peculiar tinge to them that old colour snaps seem to take on. A closer look at these photos would often show that the young woman in the frame was recognisable as the older person currently sitting in the bed, that perhaps those young children around her are those 50 something year old adults who come and visit at the weekend now and that young man standing beside her is a husband now sadly no longer with us. These photos would normally be a good way to initiate conversation with most residents. The question of “ Where was this taken?” would often prompt a detailed reply of where, when, who was there, where they stayed and other details. As the residents spoke about their holidays of long ago, their eyes would light up and it would be evident that enjoyment and pleasure was being gained from just thinking and talking about those days. Not only had enjoyment and pleasure been achieved during the actual holiday but many years later those memories were still giving happiness.
So, to anyone reading this, where ever you go on holiday this year I hope you have a great break and, remember to make as many wonderful memories as you can.
Where ever you are going — May the Sun Shine Upon You – unless of course you happen to be going on a skiing holiday, that might not be so good!
Robert Telfer, Local Integration and Improvement Lead, West Lothian and Renfrewshire.