For those of us living with disabilities or other health conditions, having limited mobility or requiring one-to-one care support means having to make special considerations when travelling. Many of us are unable to carry out essential journeys alone, such as going to the shops to buy food or collect subscriptions, or attending medical appointments at hospital or your local GP practice.
In addition to this, being unable to visit the outdoor spaces you want to, socialise with friends and family on a regular basis or even journey to your favourite holiday locations can put a strain on your mental health and can make you feel lonely or isolated – especially in the coronavirus lockdown era.
The health and social care sector in the UK can offer a helping hand, with plenty of services available country-wide to suit the needs of those unable to travel alone, including regular care visits or personal assistance from live-in carers. While the Covid-19 pandemic has meant changes to the way many of these services operate, they remain vital and continue to serve communities across the country. Here are just some of the options available to those looking to travel with the assistance of a carer.
Shopping and Essentials
Getting to the shops in order to pick up the essentials isn’t easy at the best of times for those living with disabilities and other health conditions. It may be the case that you are no longer in a condition to drive your own car safely, even on shorter journeys. While family and friends may be able to help out with the odd journey here and there, many would rather not to rely too heavily on loved ones for this as they look to maintain some independence. As much as picking up shopping and delivering it to you may help, a shopping trip can be an enjoyable part of a weekly routine and many would prefer to head out themselves.
Many care services can provide carers to assist you in achieving this. Some may own their own car, or may be insured to drive your car, to allow you to make regular journeys for essential supplies. Helping Hands Home Care offers regular calls from carers as well as live-in personal assistants to help out with a range of tasks including travel.
Although most shops have now re-opened, some restrictions remain on visiting retail hotspots due to the on-going coronavirus pandemic. Everyone is advised to express caution when making such journeys to ensure social distancing measures are adhered to. Care providers will have adapted differently depending on circumstances and individual policies and requirements.
Essential health appointments at hospitals and GP practices remain vital despite restrictions due to Covid-19. Healthcare professionals will advise on such restrictions and your carer or care provider will be able to liaise with them to arrange the best way to make the journey and ensure you receive the care you require. You may also find that you are eligible for financial support for travel for healthcare reasons through the NHS Travel Costs Scheme, as well as discounted car parking rates at some healthcare facilities.
Exercise and Leisure
Some care providers can also make arrangements for leisure outings, including for exercise, holidays and pet care such as dog walking. Social distancing rules have meant that journeys of this kind have been limited for those who require care, although exercising and getting outdoors should not be overlooked as both provide essential physical and mental health benefits. Individual polices and requirements will again dictate the nature and practicalities of such outings with carers.
Using public transport is a well-used travel option for those who require care support. While travelling via buses, trains and taxis with a carer whilst adhering to social distancing guidelines can be a challenge, most companies have put measures in place to ensure distancing is manageable such as taking on fewer passengers, with the government also now advising that all passengers on public transport should be wearing a face covering of some kind.
Again, individual policies will dictate the use of public transport with carers and your provider will help you decide the correct travel option to suit your needs. Public transport providers may also offer concessions so that carers can travel with you at discounted rates.
Most local authorities in the UK support local charities who provide dial-a-ride services for those with disabilities, limited mobility or other health conditions. Many Dial-a-ride services operate a door-to-door pick-up and drop-off service and provide travel for shopping, essential health appointments and even leisure.
Most dial-a-ride vehicles, which are often minibuses, have wheelchair access and friendly volunteer drivers to assist you in getting in and out of the vehicles. Many providers also offer volunteer-based car services. Individual services will have altered the way they operate to adhere to social distancing, with most still operating for essential travel during the pandemic. As a form of public transport, government advice on wearing a face covering and other PPE applies when using dial-a-ride services.