At a time when visually impaired people may need more assistance than usual with their shopping. Here are some useful tips.
An important point to note at the start is that everyone will have their own ideas about what would help them, so it would be useful to share these with the person who is shopping for you (or if you are the one doing the shopping, ask the individual if they have ideas that work for them).
The one biggest tip is to try and maintain routine; buy the same things, cook the same things, and eat the same things if you can. Now is not the time to start experimenting!
So, this is written as if you are shopping for someone. Have a look at these tips, they may help you.
Tip 1
Get the person to make a shopping list, or ring them and make it with them together.
Think long term – what will last? Maybe discuss adding a few long-life supplies that you know they like and will last.
Sometimes it is good to have quick to do meals
Tip 2
Try and find out what food they can prepare independently.
They may sometimes have help in normal circumstances, but we do not always realise what help we have.
Similarly, some people will only use a hob if someone else is there to check it is safe.
Tip 3
Try and stick to regular brands and products that they normally use.
They will be familiar with cooking and preparing these foods – familiarity and routine are key.
They know what the cooking times are for certain things as they do them on a regular basis.
Tip 4
Check health and dietary requirements in case you have to substitute items.
Got to check this one, it is so important. There is no point isolating if you end up with a problem because you have eaten the wrong stuff.
Tip 5
Check what they can manage to cook or prepare in case you have to make substitutions to the shopping list.
Do they use a microwave or oven? There are certain products where it makes very little difference if you change the brand – soup is soup and beans are beans, so people will know how to reheat (neither is it dangerous if you under heat).
However, if you got chicken thighs with bones instead of fillets, they may struggle with bones and fat, just cannot see it to work it out.
Tip 6
Ask how they sort their shopping, for example, should you categorise bags (main meals, desserts, snacks and so on)?
Have a system for putting it away – if you do not put it away, you do not know you have got it.
Use a magnifier and phone to identify products. Time-consuming, but rewarding. Some people will have to work through a bag, so you may want to keep an idea of what is in each bag and let them know by phone.
Tip 7
Work out how you are going to label some of it.
Work out with the individual how you are going to label items, and what you have available to use at your disposal, such as elastic bands, string, or sellotape. You could even stick a white sticker on with bold black writing if it helps.
You can use string to tie on things, and keep the toiletries separate and tied in a bag. You are trying to make things feel different so they can be more easily distinguished
Tip 8
If they have a labelling device take it with you and label the food.
Clean it thoroughly before putting it in the bag to return with the shopping. You may have to learn how to use the gear, we all use it with no sight.
Tip 9
Keep a note of cooking instructions.
You can give instructions over the phone if you have a basic labelling system to identify the product. Take a picture with your phone.
You will be surprised at how much food is to be cooked at Gas Mark 6 for 20 minutes
At least if you’ve got a copy on your phone you will be able to go back and check, so take your picture as you put it in your trolley.
Tip 10
Leave the bags where the person can find them.
You can ring them and help guide them via the phone if possible. Wait at a distance while they get the shopping in.
Put the bags to one side, as no point risking the individual tripping over them. It is also helpful to put them in some form of order (remember tip 6 about how people would like the shopping packed).
Tip 11
You could describe the shopping through a closed window via phone or they may even use FaceTime (or similar).
You may be able to help them with a delivery that has had substitutions. Some of the food parcels will have random things in, possibly larger amounts. You may end up stood on the pavement shouting, but do not worry everyone will understand!
Tip 12
Remember you should observe all the government guidelines on distance, hand washing and sanitising of equipment and surfaces.
This goes without saying, but try and keep it as safe as you can. It certainly filled me with confidence when the Tesco delivery man had his gloves on, stood back and did it all by the book.
Final point to note….
Government advice is that volunteers or those helping with shopping should not enter the person’s home.
This is to reduce the risk of infection. If there is no other option, and the individual requests that you enter their home to unpack the shopping, and you are happy to do so, ask them to open the door themselves and move into another room while you are in the home.
Please wipe down any surfaces you touch with antibacterial wipes before leaving.