Going away for the weekend is usually a time to relax and get away from the busyness of daily life, however for myself it usually consists of stress. Especially visiting someplace that I have never been to before. I love exploring new places and do get excited, but anxiety does usually take over due to not knowing what equipment is available or even if it will work. I’ve previously spoken about staying in the Crowne Plaza in Glasgow and how it is my home away home from because I know the equipment is available that I need. A couple of weeks ago though I found somewhere else that was perfect.
During the Easter weekend I stayed at Homelands in Fife in a self-catering house, (that sleeps 8 people), with my mum and our friends. I had seen and heard a lot about Homelands when attending various events but had not had the chance yet to see it for myself. The weather forecast was thankfully glorious sunshine and I was excited to finally have the opportunity to experience the accommodation myself.
There are four houses on the land of Homelands, three that sleep 6 people and ours, that as I mentioned, sleeps 8 people. Due to our house being at the end of the driveway the accessible parking space was right outside the doorway, this made it extremely helpful when unpacking. The other accessible parking spaces were located across from the other houses along with a few standard parking spaces.
To get access the house when you first arrive, you get sent a code through email to enter into the safe lock. I however did not book the weekend away and therefore did not know this, so due to being the first to arrive I headed to the reception/visitor’s centre. I was greeted by a lovely member of staff who showed us to the house and gave us a quick tour. This was the only time I interacted with a member of staff during our whole visit.
We stayed in the Drummochy house which was lovely. The kitchen and living-room were open planned which was great for my wheelchair as it meant that I didn’t have to ask anyone to open any doors for me. Although we didn’t really spend much time inside due to the glorious sunshine. There were double doors leading out into the gardens from the living-room where a patio area offered a table that seated 8 people and a small BBQ. This is were we spent most of our time, soaking up the sun and looking over at Largo Bay. All houses shared the same gardens as it stretched across and there were partitions providing adequate privacy at the sides of the patio doors.
You were also able to gain access to the gardens from the bedroom that I was staying in. There are four bedrooms in the Drummochy house which all had 2 single beds in them. Two of the bedrooms are located upstairs which I couldn’t get to because there wasn’t a lift, and the other two are located at ground level. Both bedrooms on the ground level are accessible for wheelchair users with a H shaped ceiling tracking hoist and one adjustable electric bed in each room. The room that I stayed in was the biggest in the house and was very spacious however, my helper did have to still move some furniture around to make things easier.
Apart from suitable equipment and having enough space for my wheelchair, the two other factors I usually have to consider are storage and at least 2 plugs being available near the bed for my medical equipment. The bedroom at Homelands ticked all the boxes. Within the wardrobe there was a shelf at the top to store bags or anything you want really (I used it for my travel bags), there were lots of hangers to put my clothes on and plenty of storage in a wired drawer trolley that I stored my medical things in.
There are two toilets on the ground level of the accommodation that we stayed in. One was just a standard accessible toilet with a sink and toilet, the other was a wet room with a shower. The wet room also had a H-shaped ceiling hoist although it was not connected to the ceiling hoist in the bedrooms. This means that visitors would have to be transferred on to a chair in the bedroom, drive or be pushed through to the wet room and then if needed transfer into another chair. It’s great that a hoist is available but, for me personally that’s a lot of transfers and it would be easier to do it all at once.
I got supplied with a shower chair for the duration of my visit however it was too big. This wasn’t a surprise though because I am quite small due to my disability and seats usually need to be specifically made to support me. Having a range of seat sizes could help alleviate this in future and accommodate for smaller and younger people too.
The wet room itself was very spacious, and the toilet was positioned well for wheelchair users to be able to transfer from either side. I would have to say the only issue I saw with the toilets was that there wasn’t an emergency red cord in either of them. Now, due to having helpers I don’t need the use of them myself, but I do know why they are needed. If someone needs assistance, they are able to pull the red cord to alert others in the same establishment. Maybe they aren’t needed and they would just make Homelands look more clinical but I’m just going by what I hear.
Overall, Homelands was amazing and I look forward to visiting again. As it is a very popular place to visit, the houses can book out a year in advance so you do need to plan ahead. I feel though, this only shows how much these facilities are needed for people to go on holiday and ensure that their worries are put at ease. It’s great that holiday accommodation is becoming available for visitors with restricted mobility, but more are clearly needed.