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When travelling with a client, whether it’s on a day trip or an extended stay overnight, it’s important to prepare well and be aware of your client’s needs, so that the trip is successful, enjoyable and safe for everyone.
Every client has unique support needs and so, preparing accordingly is key. The preparation itself can be a fun and exciting activity, as the anticipation builds of a grand adventure on the horizon. Start off by talking to your client, understand what’s important to them and how they see your role in helping them to have a great outing.
What to consider before you travel
A successful trip starts before you travel. By preparing beforehand, you can ensure the trip is enjoyable and safe, not just for your client but for yourself too.
Here’s a starting point to create your checklist:
- Check medication, assistive technology, accessibility equipment and other necessary items are packed and in good working order
- Discuss and understand to the best of your ability how the client’s medical conditions and/or disability may impact the planned trip and how they would like to be supported in case of emergency. Your client may have a care or support plan, ask them for permission to review case notes, so you can have as much history and background information about the client as possible. Remember to treat them as confidential documents
- Before your arrival, make sure to contact the relevant venue staff to ensure all accessibility needs are in place for the client. This may include ramps for wheelchair use, handrails and/or anti-slip maps in the bathroom for falls prevention and a quiet and/or calm venue for sensory needs
- Ensure the client has with them their list of key contacts (and ideally has given you a copy), such as next of kin, their GP, and other key members of their support team.
Communication is key
Before the trip, talk to your client about what else they might need during the travel, even if it’s just a day outing. The more you discuss, the more relaxed you both can feel, knowing you have planned for everything. Plus, in the process, you get to know each other a bit better, which is always great!
Overnight or extended time away from home
Clients may request you to accompany them on a holiday or a period of short term accommodation (including respite).
It is, of course, important to ensure your client has everything they need (such as equipment and the usual overnight necessities). What can make the experience even better is getting to know their likes and dislikes, it’s a simple yet effective starting point for a great time away for your client.
You can also find out if they are experienced travellers, or if this is their first trip away; how they feel in a different environment and if there is anything you can do to make their new environment more comfortable. A great tip is bringing a few items from home to make a temporary accommodation feel more familiar.
Research where the local supermarket and pharmacy is before you arrive. This will empower you with more confidence should you need to buy something for the client at short notice during the trip.
Dos and Don’ts when travelling with clients
- Create or confirm the packing list with your client to ensure everything is ready to go for the trip
- While on the trip, communicate with the client consistently to find out if they need anything, if they are comfortable, etc.
- Keep an eye out for potential stressors (such as a noisy airport or train station), plan in advance to make these situations less stressful
- Make a note of their dietary requirements, what they like or don’t like, whether they have any allergies or intolerances
- Maintain a positive outlook and enjoy the trip together.
- Never assume anything about a person with disability or an older Australian. Remember that everyone is an individual. Communication is key. Enjoy the process of getting to know your client as a unique person.
- Don’t blur the boundaries. Maintaining clear boundaries with your client is crucial for their wellbeing and safety, as well as yours. Even though it may feel like you’re on holiday, always remember you’re at work and remain professional at all times.
- Don’t be judgemental about what your client chooses to do while travelling. Each client has different goals, abilities and aspirations. Respect these and be there to support them when they need you.
Travelling with a client can be a rewarding experience, creating memories both you and the client will remember for years to come. With mindfulness and pre-trip preparation, you will ensure the maximum safety, comfort and enjoyment for your client.