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Travelling to care for a sick relative

Travelling to care for a sick relative
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How do you get ready to visit a sick relative abroad?

We understand that travel isn’t always for happy reasons. And we know that not all trips are planned in advance. When you travel abroad because a friend or relative needs care it’s stressful and worrying, and you may have to do a lot of administrative tasks before you can even leave Canada. Follow our checklist to ensure you’ve got everything you need before you go abroad to care for a relative.

1.       Look after your health before you travel to help a friend

Be sure to look after your own health before you go – because if you fall sick during your stay, you won’t be able to help your relative as you would wish.

We like people to make their travel health appointments six to eight weeks before they leave Canada – but we know that is not always possible, particularly in emergency situations. We can still provide help if you are travelling at short notice, so make an appointment with us even if you think you’ve left it too late to get travel vaccines. Most of our clinics can offer a same-day travel health appointments and will endeavour to accommodate you if you let us know you’re travelling in an emergency situation. Our blogpost on last-minute travel has some information about what to bring to your appointment and what help we can give you.

Remember to let your travel health nurse know why you are travelling, as this will help them to give you the best advice, including what injections you’ll need if you are staying with friends or relatives.

You will be part of a group known as VFR (visiting friends and relatives) and there are a few health considerations to bear in mind, which are described in this article by the Government of Canada. Some of the advice in our article about homestay may be of relevance, too.

2.       Know your rights when caring for a sick relative

You may be eligible for compassionate care benefits from the Canadian government, or your employer’s healthcare plan could cover some of your caring expenses. Ask your employer what assistance they can give in terms of paid or unpaid leave. Or there may be an employee assistance program you can turn to. As well as talking to your boss, you could also talk to your union rep.

Travel for an extended period may affect your residency status: you should get legal advice on this before you travel.

3.       Take out travel health insurance

Don’t forget to arrange your own travel insurance before you go. If you get sick yourself while caring for a relative abroad, travel health insurance will ensure that you can get the medical help you need without worrying about bills. Your territorial or provincial health insurance will not pay for medical treatment while you are abroad, so make sure you are covered.

4.       Learn about local resources

The person you are caring for may need help accessing services and benefits to which they are entitled. This may be difficult if there is a language barrier, so think about the support available to you. Can you access translation services or is there a friend who can help you?

You may also need support yourself, as caring for a relative is difficult, even more so if you are away from your usual home and routines. Think about who you can turn to for support, and how you will contact them.

Where can I get travel vaccinations?

If you need an appointment at a travel health clinic, turn to Canadian Travel Clinics. It is quick and easy to book online.