Nurse’s Fine Idea Takes Flights
1 March 2008
Referrals Are Key For A Health-Care Professional Who Has Built A Business On A Love Of Working With People And Flying - by Mark Fenton-Jones
As any small business founders knows, you can have the world’s most unique service but if no one knows about it, you may as well not bother.
A highly regarded senior Registered Operating Theatre Registered Nurse was convinced she had an idea whose time had come. As a nurse with more than 15years experience, including training in aviation health as part of the Qantas medical team, she identified a niche in the travel market for often time-poor individuals who need someone to accompany their loved ones.
The practice was not a new one. Health insurance companies use registered nurses like her to assist in repatriating sick or injured patients, usually after a medical emergency.
“The gap I fill is where there are people who cannot fly alone but it’s not a travel insurance situation” she says. It might be to do with expats living in one country with children in boarding school somewhere else. It could be periods where the children are shuffled backwards and forwards or it could be elderly people who want to travel and have medical needs and require assistance”.
She found that people wanting to move a sick or infirm family member frequently had no option other than to buy a return ticket and take time off work to collect the relative themselves.
Australia is home to a large number of expatriates. For occasions like Christmas or birthdays, getting the elderly family members here can be difficult.
Also with high divorce rates, separated parents who do not live in the same city as their previous partner often struggle to see their children. As Australians work longer hours, finding the time to collect and accompany children on flights has also become harder.
She says expatriates and divorcees have been the main users of her business Air Travel Companion, which she set up in 2007.
Under the service, registered nurses will accompany a traveller door-to-door, from departure to arrival and handover to their family, organising wheelchair assistance and special seating, administering medication and providing any other necessary assistance during the flight.
A coming assignment is to bring a grandmother from Milan to her grandchildren in Sydney because their mother can’t take time off.
Initially she was doing most of the flying herself but as demand increases she expects to draw on a network of nurses she met when she was doing medical retrievals. “It’s my absolute passion. I don’t see it as a job. I love people and I love flying. A lot of people wouldn’t like this nomadic lifestyle but it suits me.”
Backing her is a staff of five part-timers in a Sydney office who complete the necessary documentation for her clients, oversee her marketing and update her database with the names of potential clients. Between the first contact with client and flight, six weeks can pass as everything is put in order.
“I’m working hard on getting my name out there. That’s one of the challenges to raise the awareness of what my company does,” she says, who spends a lot of her time networking. While it meant stepping outside her comfort zone, the networking proved more fruitful than advertising, with some clients using her a second or third time. Additionally, she is working to establish strategic relationships with airlines such as Qantas.
An easier way to travel
Monday, 2 July 2007
For travellers who are unable to travel alone because they are too young, elderly or require assistance for medical reasons, Air Travel Companion could just be the answer.
A new service called Air Travel Companion is available for travellers who are flying on a long journey and require assistance.
Air Travel Companion provides qualified careers who will be on hand to make sure the passenger’s needs are attended to on the flight and arrives at their destination safely.
Carers include registered nurses who assist the traveller from the beginning of the flight to the arrival and hand-over to family and friends.
This means that they will take care of organising wheelchair assistance, special seating as well as administering medication and aiding the passenger through the flight.
The founder of Air Travel Companion has an extensive background in special training in aviation health as part of the Qantas medical team.
She believes that the demand for this service is significant, with many people having no choice but to purchase a return ticker, take time off work and collect the relative themselves as there was no previous service available.
“People often worry when an infirm family member travels alone. Common concerns centre on administering medication in changing time zones and the lack of assistance if the traveller should happen to have a fit or develop acute symptoms”.
“Having a qualified professional who can provide personal assistance has helped put a lot of people’s minds to rest.”
Australia's First Air Travel Companion: Helping unite Australians with their loved ones
Australians can now rest assured that their elderly or unwell relatives and young children can travel interstate or overseas safely without needing to be accompanied by a family member, with the launch of Australia’s first travel assistance service.
Air Travel Companion is a new service making qualified carers available to escort young, elderly or infirm travellers on long journeys, ensuring they travel comfortably and arrive safely.
Under the service, registered nurses will accompany a traveller door-to-door, from departure to arrival and hand-over to loved ones, organising wheelchair assistance and special seating, administering medication and providing any other necessary assistance throughout the flight.
The founder of Air Travel Companion is a registered nurse with more than 15 years experience, including special training in aviation health as part of the Qantas medical team.
Her decision to launch the companion service is based on her experience working with insurance companies assisting repatriate sick or injured patients. She found that people wanting to relocate a sick or infirm family member frequently had no option other than purchase a return ticket, take time off work and collect the relative themselves.
According to her, two key groups, expatriates and divorcées, will welcome Air Travel Companion.
Australia is home to a large number of expatriates, many of whom have family overseas. For occasions like Christmas or birthdays, getting elderly family members over to Australia can be a stretch. Also, with high divorce rates in Australia, separated parents who do not live in the same city as their previous partner often struggle to see their children. As Australians work longer hours, finding the time to collect and accompany children on the flight has also become harder.
“Already these clients have found the Air Travel Companion service to be a huge comfort.”
“People often worry when an infirm family member travels alone. Common concerns centre on administering medication in changing time zones, and the lack of assistance if the traveller should happen to have a fit or develop acute symptoms. Having a qualified professional who can provide personal assistance has helped put a lot of people’s minds to rest,” she said.
“It is very rewarding to see a traveller united with their family at the destination, comfortably and safely.”
She has devised a list of tips to make travelling easy:
Tips for elderly or infirm travellers
Tips for unaccompanied minors
- Carry your medication in your hand luggage
- Have sufficient medication for at least one week, in case your baggage gets lost
- Drink plenty of water
- Dress in non restrictive clothing to be comfortable on the flight
- Check with your local doctor to see if you require a support stocking or medication to avoid DVT
- Arrange for the child to meet with the travel companion prior to departure
- If the child is particularly young, ensure they have their favourite book, toy or game with them
- Label all medication if required
- For long flights, take a spare change of clothes
- If the child is a regular traveller, try to use the same companion each time
BUDDY on Board: NZ Travel Trade
27 July 2007 Rebecca Williams
A small band of registered nurses are making it possible for disabled, elderly, sick and young people to travel where they may never have travelled before.
Air Travel Companion is staffed by registered nurses who escort clients on a flight, providing door-to-door delivery, wheelchairs, assistance, onboard entertainment, constant monitoring and any other services required onboard, including administering medication. They will also handle luggage, passports, tickets and transfers on the ground.
Although based in Australia, Companions will fly to and from anywhere in the world.
The service was set up by a registered nurse with special training in aviation health as part of the Qantas medical team. The service started after several friends asked her to accompany their relatives on a flight. She has not stopped working since.
“People often worry when an infirm family member travels alone. Common concerns centre on administering medication in changing time zones and the lack of assistance if the traveller should happen to have a fit or develop acute symptoms. Having a qualified professional who can provide personal assistance has helped put a lot of people’s minds to rest”, she said.
She is quick to point out that the service is no replacement for travel insurance and insists on it for any flight. She will also check out the medical records of elderly or sick passengers to ensure she can handle their needs before flying – this could involve talking with the client’s doctor.
The company was launched last year and is already attracting a lot of business from expats who cannot afford time off to take their children home to visit relatives. There is also demand from parents with four or five children who find it a struggle to manage on a flight.
The service is also opening up the world to disabled people who may require both medical and physical assistance as well as help with equipment through airports. A recent escort involved a man with multiple sclerosis who needed assistance with writing, eating and transport his wheelchair.
“No problem”, as ATC staff love reuniting families that may not have seen each other for decades.
“Flight attendants are there to serve food, it is not in their job description to help disabled people with their meals or supervise young children.”
Air Travel Companions can be booked by Kiwi agents. For more information visit www.airtravelcompanion.com.au
MEDICAL CARE ON THE MOVE
September 2007 – Travel Section
Nurses can escort elderly or ill travellers from point A to point B
Air Travel Companion is a service set up by a highly regarded senior Registered Operating Theatre Registered Nurse to help provide assistance for sick or infirm travellers who may need medication or simply some company of a long trip. A registered nurse accompanies the passenger door to door, organising special seating, medical care, wheelchair assistance and the like.