May 21, 2015

special-needs-travel-tips-traveling-caregiving-caregivers-safety-pediatric-skilled-nursing-The Dos and Dont’s of Traveling with a Medically Fragile Child

If you are the parent of a medically fragile child, you are well aware of the additional challenges involved with your child’s well-being. Simple tasks taken for granted by other parents can be daunting for you. When you decide to travel with your child, these challenges can become even more daunting. At Epic, we work with countless families who lovingly take care of their special needs children. To that end, we have compiled this quick list of the important preparations to take when planning a trip or vacation for your child.

DO: Plan, Plan, Plan!

Consider EVERY possible challenge you might incur on your trip. The solutions may not be readily at hand depending on where you are going and the time of year you are traveling. Ensure you have redundancies built into your plans in case of a medical emergency.

DON’T: Wait until the last minute to contact your airline (if you are flying)

In advance, you will need to arrange for special security passage. This is even more important if you are traveling with oxygen. You will likely need to acquire a letter of medical necessity from your doctor regarding the need for the oxygen.

Also, most airlines require information pertaining to special needs for necessary food, medications and equipment that will be required. Again, this should be supported by a letter from your doctor.

DO: Get a referral for a local doctor…just in case

Your doctor should be able to refer you to another doctor in the area you are traveling to. Also, be sure to get a letter from your current doctor detailing your child’s diagnosis, medications and limitations.

DON’T: Forget those meds

Bring everything you will need… and some extras. Sometimes, it can be terribly difficult (and inconvenient) to fill a prescription while traveling.

DO: Identify your best points for medical help

Make sure you know the location of the nearest emergency room that is equipped to deal with the unique medical emergencies your child may encounter. NOTE: This is especially important if you plan to visit a theme park. Make sure you know where the first aid station is and what assistance they will be able to provide.

DON’T: Carry the load yourself

Some of the equipment, especially Durable Medical Equipment (DME) you might need, can be shipped ahead of time. Send it to your destination to reduce what you will need to transport on your flight or in your car.

DO: Double Check

Make sure that the equipment your child will need for the trip is functioning properly. And bring plenty of batteries. The last thing you need to do is try to hunt down an outlet on the road!

DON’T: Overlook ground transportation

Need a wheelchair-accessible taxi or shuttle? What about a rental car. Book these before you go to ensure that your trip doesn’t come to a halt before it gets going.

DO: Contact local DME dealers ahead of time

No matter how well you plan, you might find yourself in a pinch. Locate the local DME companies and contact them ahead of time to see if they can assist you if your equipment breaks or malfunctions. Some companies might even be willing to provide equipment to you on a short-term basis to eliminate the amount of equipment you have to transport.

DON’T: Put your child in an uncomfortable situation

If your child has special comfort tools, plan to take what you can to enable them to adapt to their new surroundings. More importantly, plan the types of activities that best suit your child. If your child is sensory challenged, a theme park ride might not be a suitable environment for them. Opt for a quieter environment.

DO: Power Up

Make sure there are plenty of outlets wherever you are staying so you can recharge equipment. It is a great idea to pack a power strip. Also, make sure you have access to a refrigerator if you need to store medications.

DON’T: Be too anxious to get on the road

If traveling by car, map out your rest stops. Look for locations with the types of medical care/facilities you might need (handicap-accessible bathrooms, specialty hospitals, etc.)

DO: Check the weather

If you are headed to warmer climates, pack cooling blankets, umbrellas and/or clip-on fans. For cooler climates, bring layers to minimize the need for bulky clothes. And remember, the weather ALWAYS changes, so be prepared for it.

At Epic, we understand the challenges associated with traveling with medically fragile children.

If you need help planning for a trip, or if you need full-time assistance while you travel, contact us. We can provide the precise services you, your child and your family require. For more information, visit our website.