Going on a holiday is something most of us take for granted. We choose a destination, look for a good deal, book it and go. But when you or someone in your circle of family and friends has cerebral palsy (CP) it is rarely so easy.
A lot of time, research and planning goes into any holiday taken by a person with CP. Every element of the holiday has to be planned, from ensuring that there is assistance at the airport to checking that there is genuine disabled access at key points as this description can vary enormously around the world. Inevitably, the holiday will be more expensive, as families often have use specialist companies or hotels to give them the confidence that all their needs will be met once they arrive at their destination. They may also have to book extra rooms for their carers and pay for their time and costs. There is rarely any chance of a last minute bargain.
Many of our CP clients and their families have told us of the difficulties they have faced when organising their summer holiday. These stories range from spending hours on hold to an airline which never answers the telephone - because disabled assistance cannot be booked online - to finding out, after days of research, that the wheelchair access villa they are contemplating booking has steps outside and is on a steep hill.
Even when booking a holiday directly with a company in the UK, which you would hope would be more straightforward, families often face difficulties in securing suitable wheelchair friendly/disabled access rooms to accommodate all their needs. We have heard tales of families with young children with CP being unable to book a family room with wheelchair access, meaning that the family has to be split and an additional room paid for.
Helen Hammond, a clinical negligence lawyer in Basingstoke, comments: “These families are frequently in desperate need of a holiday break. Their finances are often already massively stretched if parents have given up work to care for their disabled child. We sincerely hope that the holiday companies realise how much these families would benefit from a simplified booking system for those travelling with disabled people.”