Because you wanted to know: three Frequently Asked Questions about LiveWorkPlay Travel Support!
I heard there are 30 people and staff taking a trip to Club Med Turks & Caicos January 23-30 why such a fancy place?
We support about 3 trips per year and one destination is always to a warm climate during winter, because that’s clearly what people want (we ask). This particular resort has excellent support for an inclusive experience, not only because of how their staff are trained and their policies, but because other guests tend to be looking for opportunities to interact with other guests. It’s an important principle of LiveWorkPlay travel that it’s not just a big group of people with intellectual disabilities and staff support clumping around together. At this resort within the first few days most individuals have made connections with Club Med staff and guests are able to enjoy a holiday without too much of an obtrusive LiveWorkPlay staff presence.
Our other two trips this year are both on a motor coach (bus) and they are shorter trips and of course less expensive. We use motor coach tours because it is an opportunity to travel with others and it also solves the problem of how to get around with a group of people in an urban environment (typically these are city tours). While riding the bus and enjoying meals together with other travellers it’s a great social experience and what people see and do is often just the icing on the cake.
Going on trips is a choice, and clearly with 30 people going to Club Med, it’s a choice they want to make, including the budgeting required to attend (members pay their own travel and accommodations).
This must be great for LiveWorkPlay staff but what about the staff that aren’t able to come?
LiveWorkPlay travel support is one of the most challenging staff roles, and not everyone wants to do it for various reasons, including the fact that it means leaving their own family and home behind for 7 days and 7 nights, and quite frankly, it’s exhausting. It’s definitely not a holiday for the LiveWorkPlay staff (they typically need a holiday after it’s over). Their days start from when the first LiveWorkPlay member gets up in the morning and ends when nightly festivities are over. This is often a 16 hour experience and there is a lot of potentially stressful risk management and plenty of non-stop relationship management (this is normal with any large group of people who all know each other and are spending a lot of time together).
While you will see photos and videos of staff having fun on the trip and that’s authentic, it’s important to understand that it’s similar to what anyone in the travel industry would experience. For example, running a fishing boat, or driving a tour bus, or being a scuba instructor, or a DJ at the after diner party, etc. Those jobs offer environments and activities that many people would find interesting and fun as a career, but they also have their own difficulties and challenges and they are definitely work (even if they have moments of fun). Although LiveWorkPlay staff are professionals and can rise to just about any challenge, they do try to support members to enjoy activities that they also enjoy, so that the support is more natural.
Much of the work that is done behind the scenes involves other guests and Club Med staff, who sometimes need support to give our members their space and not over-serve them or over-accommodate them. This can happen rather easily when well-meaning people take an interest in our members and simply want to “help” and LiveWorkPlay staff are quick to pick up on this, and to find ways to put a little twist on things so that guests or Club Med staff are fully valuing our members not as in need of help, but as being appreciative of a reciprocal relationship just like anyone else. In other words, they could potentially be of help to each other, as equals. As usually happens, by the end of a trip there are a number of guests that bond with LiveWorkPlay members to the point where they are interested in vacationing with them again (this is another reason to keep returning to this particular resort – lots of friends to see!).
What’s the hardest part of supporting LiveWorkPlay travel?
Definitely the airport. It’s a lot of people having to move quickly and precisely in a stressful environment which can challenge ANY citizen but does tend to put excessive pressure on people with intellectual disabilities who often cannot simply “go faster” and may not meet the expectations of airport staff or other travellers. That’s where LiveWorkPlay staff bring to bear their extensive experience of how to provide support without unnecessarily taking over and depriving our members of the opportunity to learn and gain confidence, including learning that all travellers have these challenges.
More generally, during the trip, members get tired, they make mistakes, and they need help dealing with that, physically and emotionally. With about 30 people on the Club Med trip the odds that at least a few people aren’t feeling great at any one time are pretty high. The staff works well as a team to keep up to date on how people are doing and trying to make sure that everyone is getting to try and experience everything that is of interest to them. At the same time, their high end skills come in to play with learning how to get out of the way (the old teach a person to fish, don’t just hand them a fish). By the end of the week many members will have an entire 12 hours planned without any help at all!
A lot of the support is required first thing in the morning and last thing at night. “Staying organized” is an ongoing challenge, given the living quarters are small and shared and not what anyone is used to. LiveWorkPlay staff also help certain members with specific personal goals or concerns they may have established and shared prior to the trip.