Before coming to Sargood on Collaroy, I hadn’t been away from home for nearly four years. Before my injury, I was naturally adventurous; I had ticked off my bucket list by age 18 including sky diving, snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, and was on the way to getting my pilots license. Following my spinal cord injury in 2011, I really struggled with my life and the physical limitations I now lived with. I rarely left home and preferred to keep myself isolated with my laptop.
Coming to Sargood for my first stay was a challenge in itself; pushing me outside of my new comfort zone. I remember my first night there I was nervous without my usual carers. I can clearly recall speaking to my new support worker Chloe who was with me during the stay, telling her how desperately I wanted to go home. But as the days went on, I became more comfortable and I found myself planning my next trip before the first one was even over! I went from “I don’t want to be here’ to ‘can we extend by an extra day?”.
The stay went brilliantly, so much so that not only did it warrant another visit, but I found myself thinking about things I could do during the week when I was back at home. This is where I first began to see a shift in myself. Sargood enabled me to change the image of myself in my head about what was now “normal”, and I started thinking about what else I could be doing to make myself happy again. Most notably when I was back at home, I began asking to participate in group outings rather than insisting on one-on-one support, which came as a big shock to my support workers.
The staff and the adaptive technology at Sargood made a difference to my ability and desire to travel. All the staff are friendly and helpful, and I really like that they take the time to ask me how I like things done. Care is done the way I am comfortable with which makes the experience a lot easier for me. I love knowing that care and accessibility are two things I don’t have to worry about. I can instead spend time exploring Sydney and going to two my favourite comic events – ComiCon and SuperNova!
At home I have a bed which can be height adjustable; a feature you wouldn’t find at a regular hotel and has been a big barrier for me wanting to leave home. Coupled with my need for a hoist, travelling has seemed so out of reach the last few years. I considered cruising, thinking that may be a solution, but they can’t supply the kind of power hoists that I need to get in and out of bed. Sargood on the other hand, has the lot: the adjustable beds, the power hoists, home automation, all pieces of technology that make my stays so simple, convenient, and enjoyable. Staying here has given me a better understanding of what equipment I need and open up a world of ideas on how to make my own home more accessible. I’m now waiting on quotes to install doors at home that are just like the ones here at Sargood!
With each visit to Sargood on Collaroy, I’ve noticed my confidence in my own abilities are increasing. This resort is setting the standard for all accessible accommodation, and is teaching me how to look after myself, and how things in an accessible room should work. It is helping me get used to being away from home in a safe environment without actually being too far away. Sargood is the perfect stepping-stone for me, and I’m now looking at even more places to travel. I’ve gone from the woman who wouldn’t leave the house, to the woman who’s planning an overseas trip! My next stay, this coming February, will be my first trip on my own; my first trial of independent travel and I couldn’t be more excited!
Sargood on Collaroy has opened my mind to the fact there is still so much that I can do. I now have a new bucket list, a new plan of things to see and try. Sargood has been my reminder that life has not finished; it has only changed.