Holidays should be for everyone. Whether your loved one has a disability or is living with a condition such as dementia, there are important things to consider when organising a holiday, such as medications, mobility equipment, and accessibility.
Fortunately, with the right information and planning, you and your loved one can benefit from a holiday or short break. In this article we’ll be discussing the various things you should consider before planning the holiday to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible.
What type of holiday do you both want?
The first step is to decide what type of holiday you and your loved one would like to go on as certain adaptations may have to be made to accommodate the needs of your loved one. Therefore, planning is essential to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible.
Do you want to go on holiday at home in the United Kingdom or abroad?
Will you be driving or taking a ferry or an airplane?
What type of break do you want – a relaxing beach holiday or an adventure?
Holidays to consider include:
Adventure – such as a safari or skiing holiday
Supported holidays for specific care needs
Accessibility & Equipment
One of the most important things to consider when planning a holiday with the person you care for is accessibility. Accessibility covers a wide range of things, such as public toilets, public transport, leisure activities, and accommodation. When thinking about accessibility you should consider what the specific needs of your loved one are. You might ask the following questions regarding your loved one’s particular circumstances:
Do they have difficulty walking upstairs?
Do they need a wheelchair?
Do they have impaired vision?
Is your loved one deaf or hard of hearing?
Do they need mobility aids, such as walking frames?
Does your loved one need hoists or accessibility aids in the bathroom?
Does your loved one have a neurological disorder?
Does your loved one have dementia?
There are many questions to be asked but by considering the key areas that affect their accessibility, you can ensure that you face as few obstacles as possible whilst on holiday.
Before booking your holiday you should also consider the accessibility of the holiday destination to ensure that you choose a location that your loved one can truly benefit from. This also allows you to bring any necessary equipment or organise the equipment at your destination to prevent any unwelcome problems. You can often hire wheelchairs and other aids at the destination in advance.
To find out more information about the accessibility of visitor accommodation throughout England, check out the National Accessible Scheme (NSA).
Medical considerations whilst travelling – leg room, oxygen, and medications
Flying can be a daunting prospect for many people and is often not seen as the most accessible form of travel. Many airlines provide extra leg room, often at an extra cost, if necessary.
If your loved one requires oxygen it’s important to inform the airline or travel operator beforehand. The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) does not allow people to carry their own oxygen tanks or liquid oxygen aboard aircrafts. Instead, passengers can use a Department of Transportation approved battery-powered portable oxygen concentrator. You will also need to obtain documentation from your doctor prior to travelling to confirm that you need supplemental oxygen prior to travelling.
You can carry essential medicines through customs. As with other liquids they will need to be carried in a clear, plastic, re-sealable bag and in containers of 100ml. Any essential medicines of more than 100ml will only be allowed through customs with the correct supporting documents from a relevant qualified medical professional and through prior arranged approval from the airline. This is applicable to everything of over 100ml whether it be medicine or insulin.
More information is available from the Air Travel FAQs at the Department for Transport website.
It’s always important to ensure that you have the relevant travel insurance for you and your loved one. This ensures that if any accidents happen or if your loved one falls ill whilst you are away, you can receive the appropriate medical care without having to worry about paying full cost for any hospital visits or treatment.
Most holiday company insurance policies will not cover travelling with a pre-existing medical condition, however there are specialist insurance companies that will do so. You will need to contact your doctor for written permission to travel before applying for travel insurance as the majority of travel companies will not provide coverage if you are travelling against your doctor’s orders. The insurance company will also usually ask you to go through a medical screening process. It’s essential that you always disclose any pre-existing medical conditions as a failure to do so can lead to subsequent claims becoming invalidated.
Since 1st January 2006, if you are a British citizen travelling within the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) countries and Switzerland, your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitles you to any necessary medical treatment due to either accident or illness in those countries – this is treatment deemed as being clinically necessary in the opinion of a doctor or dentist. The EHIC also covers pre-existing conditions including routine monitoring of conditions such as diabetes and heart conditions. Dialysis and oxygen therapy are also covered by the EHIC, anyone requiring these therapies must make arrangements prior to departure from their home member state.
More information about applying for an EHIC is available from the NHS.
Funding your holiday
If you need help with covering the costs of your holiday, grants and holiday charities exist to help fund your holiday with the person you care for.
One such charity is Family Fund, a leading grant provider for families caring for children living with a disability of learning difficulty. They will assess your situation and calculate what grant you may be eligible for to help you and your loved ones enjoy the holiday that you deserve.
Tourism for all have a detailed list of holiday charities who may be able to help you and your loved one enjoy a holiday together. Check out their directory here.
Taking a carer with you on your holiday
Caring for a loved one is a demanding role and one which requires a lot of selflessness and determination. Thus, it’s important that we have some time to ourselves in order to relax and ensure that you can continue to provide the high quality care that your loved one deserves.
You can arrange for a carer to accompany you on your trip. This allows you the opportunity to spend some quality time alone and with each other in your chosen setting - be that somewhere new, or an old favourite holiday spot - while having your usual care load lessened.
It may be that your loved is cared for during the day and given the opportunity to do fun and engaging activities whilst you enjoy a holiday of your own nearby. You can find a carer to provide care support during your holiday privately through care organisations like SuperCarers or through a specialist travel agency.
How to plan it?
There are some helpful resources available for planning holidays for you and the person that you care for to ensure that all of their needs are met.
Many travel companies, especially those tailored to disabled or supported holidays, can arrange the hire of equipment, such as wheelchairs and hoists at the destination, as well as transport suited to your loved ones needs. These agencies will also help you choose accommodation and locations that will meet your loved ones needs.
You may want to consider the following companies and organisations: