Life Hacks for Hospital and Travel

By Susan Thompson

In October’s edition of Blind Citizens News, I introduced a new feature I hope to bring to readers. With the help of Convention sessions past and future, various online resources and contributions from readers, I want to create a resource of “Life Hacks” for meeting some of the challenges we might face as people who are blind or vision impaired.

In my last article, I started the ball rolling by giving you my very own tip for peeling potatoes. In this edition, I am bringing a few of the great tips from workshops on both travel and being in hospital which were part of the recent BCA National Convention, held in Hobart.

Taking the Stress out of Travelling Alone

This workshop featured three seasoned travellers – Jaci Armstrong, Rikki Chaplin and Judy Small. They shared some of their strategies for getting the most out of a trip and practical ideas that make things run more smoothly and help avoid stress.

Three of their key tips were:

  1. Consider saving up just a bit more to enable you to afford some of the things that can make your trip smoother or more enjoyable. These include an annual subscription to airport lounges where you can receive better personal assistance, or arranging personal tour guides who can help you get that much more out of your visit.
  2. Packing is important! One panellist said she tries wherever possible to pack all she takes in one carry-on bag so she doesn’t need help finding luggage at airport baggage collection. Some other suggestions about packing included a power board to plug in all your devices in one place, downloading relevant information or apps in case you lose internet access, and packing using pack cells (nylon and mesh bags) to help you keep items sorted in your bag.
  3. Stay calm so anxiety doesn’t overpower your ability to problem-solve when things don’t go so smoothly. And keep a friendly attitude as generally people are very willing to help.

Surviving Hospital When You’re Blind or Vision Impaired

This workshop featured Martin Stewart, along with Susan Thompson and Helen Badge from the NSW Centre for Clinical Innovation, who are conducting a project to improve the in-hospital experience for people who are blind or vision impaired. We heard about personal experiences of hospital from Martin, and some practical ideas for both planned and unplanned trips to hospital. Then Helen and Susan Thompson outlined the project on improving the hospital experience, and some of the findings from interviews with people who are blind or vision impaired as part of the project.

Although there is still a lot of work to be done to improve hospital experiences for people who are blind or vision impaired overall, some ideas for making our stay easier included:

  1. Take advantage of pre-admission meetings when available and make sure there are good precise notes about you and your needs.
  • Develop your own hospital plan, containing no more than five points you would like or need in relation to your care when in hospital. One particular thing to consider is whether or not to have signage advising of your vision impairment for all staff to read and your preferred wording for this sign.
  • Consider utilising My Health Record to have this plan stored and available to health professionals whenever you are in hospital.

More information about these and other tips for travel or hospital stays can be heard in recordings of these sessions, which are available to stream or download via the “Audio” page on our website.

Contribute your Life Hacks or ask the collective oracle

In future issues of Blind Citizens News, I will bring you more great tips on dealing with our frequent challenges from fellow blind and vision impaired people. If you have a question to ask, or a tip to share with others about how you have overcome a challenge, we’d love to hear it.

To submit questions about daily tasks in which you’d like some advice, email bca@bca.org.au with the subject line “Question for Life Hacks”. Likewise, those with great tips to share can send an email to the same address with the subject line “Tip for Life Hacks”.

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