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Getting Out

Choosing to stay at home may mean an increased risk of loneliness and boredom – particularly if you have restricted mobility and have only limited visits from carers or family.

Even for those with mobility problems, getting out should remain a possibility. Getting out to clubs, to shop or to make social visits can make a very positive contribution to a more fulfilled life. It is something to look forward to, for the companionship and changes of scenery and routine it will bring.

There are a number of options to think about:

 

 

Luncheon Clubs

A good way of obtaining a nutritious meal once or twice a week may be to attend a Luncheon Club, if there is one in your area. Unfortunately, these are not as common now as they used to be.

You might also find a club which has formed itself into a ‘cook and eat’ club – where the emphasis is on visitors regaining cooking skills. In addition to providing a substantial meal, the added benefit of such clubs is that they provide companionship and interest. Luncheon club staff may also provide access to other services through their contacts in the local community and they will also unobtrusively monitor the wellbeing of their regular visitors.

Luncheon clubs are likely to be provided by organisations such as Age Concern, local churches, a Community Centre etc. The Social Services Department or the local library may be able to tell you about clubs in your area. If transport is a problem, some clubs may be able to arrange transport. There will be a charge for the lunch.

Day Centres and Day Hospitals

Day centres not only provide lunches, but also several hours of care and companionship. Often other services such as bathing, hairdressing or chiropody are available.

Various recreational activities may be on offer or, alternatively, the emphasis may be on just shorter term rehabilitation. Again, there is no standard level of day care available in all areas. Each local authority will differ in its approach and you will need to telephone the Social Services Department in your area to find out what is available.

In some areas there may be day care available at weekends, as well as on weekdays. ‘Long’ days, to enable a family carer to go to, or stay later at work, may be possible. Also, specialist day care, such as for people with dementia, mental ill health or strokes, may be provided.

Such centres are likely to be referred to as Day Care Centres. Usually, day care is provided by voluntary organisations such as Age Concern.

There will be a charge for day care, but you may get some help towards the cost, depending on your local authority’s assessment of your need and your financial position. See The Role of Social Services.

Day care provided by the health service (often referred to as Day Hospital) is likely to be for a limited period, rather than over the long term – usually while someone is recovering from a stay in hospital. Day Care will be geared to rehabilitation rather than social activities. Usually, attendance would be organised when discharge from a stay in hospital is being planned, although you could also be referred by your GP. See Hospital Discharge. There will be no charge for attendance at a day hospital.

Transport

Being able to get out and about, if at all possible, is an important factor in maintaining quality of life. Driving your own car may still be a possibility. However, you must tell the DVLA if you develop a disability or health condition which might affect your ability to drive. Licences are not automatically renewed after the age of 70. Your GP will advise you if you are unsure about your ability and safety as a driver.

You may be able to find someone to drive you, either in your vehicle or theirs. If your car is used, make sure that you have insurance to cover another driver. Also make sure that anyone who is going to drive your car has a valid driving licence.

The Orange Badge
If you are regularly driven and find it difficult to get from the car to the buildings you are visiting, you can apply for an Orange Badge. This will enable your driver to park in defined disabled spaces, or places where there are normally parking restrictions. Your local authority Social Services department will decide if you qualify.

‘Helping Hand’ Schemes
In some communities there is a “Helping Hand” or similar scheme, in which volunteers will take you to hospital appointments, the shops, or even out socially in their own cars. The local Volunteer Bureau, WRVS, library or social services department is likely to know if there is such a scheme in your area. Local Churches may also provide the information. In rural areas, the Rural Community Council will know if there is such a service operating.

Dial-a-Ride
Dial-a-Ride is a similar service, except that transport is usually in minibuses – with tail lifts, or ramps for wheelchair users. There is normally a charge for this service and you will need to book in advance. Information on Dial-a-Ride can be obtained from your local council’s Transport Planning Department, the Rural Community Council in country areas, Citizens Advice Bureau, or the local library.

The Taxicard Scheme
If you live in London, you may be able to use a Taxicard scheme, to get a concessionary fare from defined taxi operating companies. This is designed for people who cannot use normal public transport because of a permanent disability. The scheme does not run in every borough, but DART (Dial-a-Ride and Taxicard Users) on 020 7482-2325, will be able to provide more detailed information on the availability of such schemes.

Concessionary Rail Fares
If you need to make a longer journey, you may need to use a train. There are concessionary fares for people over 60 who can get a Senior Railcard, or for people with disabilities who can get a Disabled Persons Railcard. Some trains are well adapted for people in wheelchairs, but not all. The cardinal rule is to make the arrangements beforehand, particularly if you need assistance at stations. The National Rail Enquiry Service on 0845 748 4950 will give information on train schedules, fares and which Rail Company operates your chosen route. The rail company will provide the more detailed information on the facilities available and will help to plan your journey. If possible travel with a companion.

One very useful contact number for all travel needs is Tripscope on 0345 585641.

 

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