Heath View - Access as described
Lynne Goodwyn, owner of Heath View holiday accommodation in Suffolk, tells us about searching for accessible holidays with her daughter Holly, who is a wheelchair user. Read how these experiences lead to Heath View - a home from home that really is as described.
When our daughter was little holidays were relatively easy. That is to say we didn’t look in such detail at steps, access and bathrooms. It was a short-lived freedom of choice. Very quickly we gained an unenviable array of equipment; walkers, wheelchairs, bath seats and we found ourselves searching for holiday accommodation with space, no shingle, and no steps. Destinations were determined solely by Holly’s disability. Family and friends talked of exotic places with white sand or deep snow. They urged us to go but had little understanding of our restrictions: Holly’s cerebral palsy was further complicated by uncontrolled epilepsy, so we could never be far from a hospital.
Searching for holiday accommodation became a minor obsession. Websites claimed “disabled access”yet had steps, “level threshold”thatwas surrounded by deep shingle, “accessible shower”over a high-sided bath. We were once promised a chair in the shower only to find a grubby garden chair squeezed into a narrow cubicle with the back of the chair itself blocking any access even for the most able. I dismissed any property that didn’t have a wet room, but it was soon clear that our requirements were too restrictive and we would have to compromise. On arrival we still check the bathroom first and Holly always asks,“So how are we going to do this then?”
Whilst building a fully-equipped home for Holly we bought and lived in Heath View, the house next to the building plot. We adapted the bathroom to make a proper, non-slip wet room, cleared spaces so Holly could move freely, re-fitted the kitchen and re-designed and opened up the two gardens to make one huge accessible green area.
Based on our own experiences we started to get the idea to run Heath View as a holiday home. It was an exciting time, thinking how we could increase the accessibility yet maintain the homely, non-clinical feel. Through a lot of hard work and careful thought, we have achieved this: a home from home that really is as described. The driveway and garden paths are completely flat and smooth and the bungalow itself has true level thresholds with double doors from the drive through to the kitchen. The gardens have proved a great success for all our guests. We have a sunken trampoline for unrestricted access, a large sand pit with a removable side panel, games for all abilities and our pigs, chickens and ducks are a great attraction for children. For safety, Heath View’s garden is completely enclosed with fencing and front and rear gates, and dogs are welcome. In addition to all this, our guests have access to Holly’s warm therapy pool which is an even four feet depth. The wide steps provide safe entry and we have an overhead hoist for those who need it. Last year we added a hot tub, which is has been much appreciated as an ideal to way to relax stiff and aching joints.
Even now we cannot quite believe our luck with the location of our two properties. Situated down a private road we feel like we live in the heart of the Suffolk countryside, yet we are less than two miles from a large A&E, 10 minute walk to Sainsbury’s and just six miles from the beautiful Suffolk coast. It is so peaceful here with the heathland directly opposite the house. The paths there too are easy for walking, cycling and wheeling and lead on to farmland and Purdis Golf Course, should any guest wish for a more determined walk.
Holly is now 18, full of life and well known in her local area. To this end, she is perfectly placed to advise guests on access to the local attractions. We have visited most farm parks, play areas, beaches, shops, restaurants, you name it and if we don’t know first hand what the facilities are like, we will know someone who does. Having said that, almost all our guests in our first year said they had spent most of the time enjoying the garden, by choice, because why go anywhere else when all you need is right here provided for you?