busA learning disability support provider has introduced a new travel training programme that includes the use of smartphones to help build the confidence and independence of the people it supports.

Tracscare’s new training programme will enable those it supports to develop a new level of independence. For some this will mean making unaccompanied journeys for the first time, while for others it will mean making journeys for the first time that, although accompanied on a one-to-one basis, will nevertheless represent a degree of independence that was previously difficult to attain. For all, the training programme presents the opportunity to gain increased access to the local community and the ability to participate in local volunteering or work opportunities.  

The programme, which has been introduced by Tracscare’s regional trainer (health and social care), Sally Harvey, has been adapted from a model previously used for people with sight loss. The programme uses smart devices, such as smartphones, to aid navigation, build confidence, and provide reassurance.  

In partnership with a trained member of staff, individuals supported at Tracscare services will be guided, on a one-to-one basis, through an assessment process designed to identify their specific travel goals– for example, enabling them to get to a volunteering opportunity – and to highlight any existing barriers, such as specific risks or anxiety triggers. 

Once the travel goals are established, an ideal route that limits contact with identified risks and triggers is planned. For example, if an individual becomes anxious around dogs, the route planned minimises the likelihood of encountering a dog. 

With the route planned, the individual will begin by making supported journeys, which then become increasingly independent. Where appropriate, individuals will eventually progress to make the regular journey unaccompanied. 

In addition, individuals are encouraged to carry a ‘comfort object’ on which they can focus their thoughts in moments of difficulty. Such ‘comfort objects’ help to manage anxiety and can allow individuals to overcome many of the obstacles that previously prevented them from traveling independently.    

Tracscare plans to roll out the ‘Travel Training’ programme across all its services during the course of this year, following a successful pilot programme, which included supporting one individual to complete independent travel to a regular volunteering role for the first time, a goal that they had long wanted to achieve.

“Each individual supported by Tracscare has their own needs and personal goals. They face unique challenges compared to many in society, particularly when traveling independently,” said Harvey. 

“The Travel Training programme, which has been fully tailored to support individuals across our areas of clinical specialism, will give practitioners the tools required to support individuals to achieve their personal travel goals through personalised travel plans and confidence building.”