Going on holiday?
Everyone needs a holiday now and then and to have a break from their daily routine, but for those who are caring for others or who have a disability themselves, arranging a holiday involves additional planning to ensure that everyone’s needs are met.
Planning your holiday
There is a huge range of holidays available to suit people with different types of disablement. There are organizations and charities who arrange and provide holidays for people with different disabilities and have experience in catering for people with disabilities. If you choose one that covers your particular disability, or you are a carer planning for someone with a particular disability, you will know that your particular needs will have been provided for, eg. if mobility is a problem for you, that there will be guaranteed access and assistance if you need it.
This can save you a great deal of time and trouble but could also limit your choice of venue and type of activity. If this is the case, provided you ensure you cover the areas that are essential to your needs, you can always plan your holiday yourself. There is plenty of information available and, provided you make your needs known, people will do their best to help.
Getting out and about
There are so many choices of destinations designed with the disabled tourist in mind and in the UK many accommodation providers can participate in the National Accessible Scheme (NAS).
The NAS is a voluntary scheme in which accommodation providers within the tourism industry can participate to accurately promote the facilities they offer to disabled guests or older visitors. The NAS aims to make their services more disabled and elderly friendly by identifying how accessible the accommodation is to those who have mobility difficulties or sensory impairment. If an accommodation provider displays a NAS symbol in their literature on signage, this means that the business meets the scheme’s criteria for providing accessible facilities and services for disabled people.
If you take medication, even if it is occasionally, do ensure that you take it with you and a list of your current medication can also be very useful should you need medical help whilst you are away.
In addition to the amount you will need for your holiday, you should also pack up to another week’s worth to have sufficient to cover any delays such as strikes, ash clouds etc.
If you find yourself without medication or need a check-up, you could do any of the following:-
- Visit a doctor – as a UK citizen you can visit any practice in the UK but you may find that some doctors are reluctant to prescribe painkillers or controlled drugs to patients they do not know.
- You could contact your own doctor and see if they can fax a prescription to a pharmacist so that they can dispense it.
- Pharmacists are also able to provide some medical advice so they may be able to help
- If none of the other suggestions help and the medication is vital to your wellbeing, visit a local hospital and one of the doctors will be able to write out an emergency prescription
If you are planning to go to Europe, make sure that you have a European Health Insurance Card as, although it is not a substitute for travel insurance, it guarantees free or reduced medical costs in all the European Union countries plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. It is free and you can apply or renew online at http://ec.europa.eu/youreurope or by phone on 08456062030. You can also get an application form from your pharmacist or local post office. There is also a very good site ‘Your Europe’ http://ec.europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/index_en.htm on the DWP site which gives practical information about travelling in the EU.
If you are planning a trip overseas, you will be able to access specific advice on the country you plan to visit by accessing the travel section of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.
When making your travel arrangements ensure that the accommodation is suited to your disability. Ensure that the accommodation owners are able to support your particular needs. For instance, if you have mobility problems, that doors and lifts are wide enough or, if it is needed, do they offer assistance for wheelchair users? Do they offer ground floor rooms? If you are blind, will they provide information and menus in Braille for you?
Some hotels have specially adapted accommodation for people who have disabilities and may offer the following facilities:-
- Manual and electric bath hoists
- Manual and electric bed hoists
- Raised toilet seats
- Vibrating alarms
- Alarm systems in rooms
- Wheel-in showers
Remember, you may have a disability that is not obvious to other people so, to ensure your holiday matches your expectations, be prepared to explain your particular requirements when booking accommodation or dealing with a travel company.
The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995
The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 aims to end the discrimination that many disabled persons face and part 3 of the DDA relates to businesses that provide accommodation and other leisure services. It sets out to ensure that disabled customers of these service providers are not unjustifiably treated in a less favourable manner than other customers for a reason related to their particular disability.
The DDA doesn’t cover travelling by air but does apply in the UK to services such as booking systems and airport services and facilities. To ensure things don’t go wrong, if you will need assistance at the airport or on the plane, make this clear when you book your flight.
Travel Insurance for disabled people
People with pre-existing medical conditions or the very elderly often find it difficult to obtain travel cover and yet, it can be argued, this group of people have more need of cover than many, as they are much more vulnerable should things go wrong. This is why the National Careline has sought out specialist insurer 'Unique' because they have a range of products designed with elderly and disabled travellers in mind.
It is advisable to take out travel insurance even if you are travelling in the UK and from the different types of cover available you need to decide what type of cover you need and that the cover you get is adequate for these needs. This is especially important if you’re likely to need medical attention which may cut your holiday short or you are taking special equipment with you such as wheelchairs or mobility scooters.
It is important that a travel policy covers, not only the usual items such as theft of belongings, flight delays etc., but also cover for any medical costs that arise from you being ill whilst away (many policies do not cover claims from ‘pre-existing medical conditions’), and cover if an airline is not able to carry you perhaps due to the plane being changed to one that is unable to cope with disabled persons.