Jackie and Helen are two people we support at Ling Crescent in Hampshire, one of our 33 specialist autism services who are currently working towards accreditation by the National Autistic Society. Jackie and Helen were supported by staff to plan a short trip away to Manchester and Edinburgh – something that was new for them. Due to the distance, the team felt travelling by flight would be the most efficient way to get to their destinations. However, Jackie had never been on a plane before so the staff knew they had some preparation to do!
It all began one day when Jackie and Helen decided they’d like to go on holiday abroad together. Staff were excited at their decision and stepped straight into action to help them get prepared.
The first step was to choose the holiday destination. To help them narrow a destination down, the team began by asking whether they would like to visit somewhere hot or cold. And of course, hot was the choice! A verbal response was given from Helen when asked if hot was the preference, and from Jackie the response was a big smile with a giggle.
It was agreed between the staff at Ling Crescent and Helen and Jackie’s care managers that prior to booking the holiday, it would be a good idea to establish Helen and Jackie’s confidence and compatibility of flying - especially as Jackie had never been on a plane before. Risk assessments and mental capacity assessments were also implemented at this stage to support them both.
The team began to think of ways in which they could support the ladies to build confidence and ensure they were ready to access a flight safely and comfortably. After making contact with their GP’s, who agreed there were no concerns regarding their health and well-being, the team discovered that a local college have an air stewardess training course which uses a mock-up plane.
After contacting the college, who were extremely welcoming, it was arranged for Helen and Jackie to undergo a 45 minute session on the plane. During the session, they were booked onto a flight as they would be in an airport, they boarded the plane and took their seat, and then were presented a safety demonstration whilst sat. Snacks were also served to the ladies, to create a realistic atmosphere of what to expect. The staff supporting Helen and Jackie reported back that both of them enjoyed the experience and there were no concerns regarding an actual trip away.
The team made a decision that the ladies should next be supported on an in-country flight, to ensure they were capable of undergoing a short flight before flying further afield. This would also determine if Helen and Jackie are happy being away from the home in an unfamiliar environment. Helen and Jackie chose Manchester as their destination and it was a great success. The ladies had a great time away, and the travel ran smoothly.
Since their first trip to Manchester, Helen and Jackie have ventured to Edinburgh by plane to experience another culture and environment. Jackie has taken to flying so much, she was also supported to fly to Poland, where her family are from. Now that they’ve gained this valuable experience, the team are now ready to plan their hot holiday and have confidence they will both love it!
All of this couldn’t have been achieved without the dedication from the team of staff who have followed a person-centred process. This has required a lot of planning and preparation, which will continue in the future, as both ladies look to broaden their horizons.