Transportation options for Comox Valley seniors

What situation is Mrs. Emerson presented with you ask? In a nutshell, she requires transportation and companionship...

“I read your columns all the time Wendy but why haven’t you written about someone in a similar situation to mine? Surely there are others like me that need the same type of help I receive.”

Mrs. Emerson is a 92-year-old widow who lives in her own home.  She’s had her share of hurdles and yet overall, she remains incredibly independent and healthy.

She doesn’t require any help with personal care and chooses to have help with maintaining her home and enjoys a good meal at least once a week with her son and daughter-in-law.

Although one of her children lives in town and is extremely helpful with her overall well-being, Mrs. Emerson is very aware of their own busy lives. Her son works at a busy job and her daughter-in-law has some health challenges as well as having various community commitments.

Mrs. Emerson is also a straight-shooter and “tells it like it is,” something I deeply admire and enjoy about her.

What situation is Mrs. Emerson presented with you ask? In a nutshell, she requires transportation and companionship.

Despite being able to walk to some nearby amenities, having a strong family connection and a voracious appetite for reading (among many other activities), Mrs. Emerson still admits to a certain degree of loneliness. She also isn’t able to drive anymore and isn’t particular eager to use HandyDART.

Mrs. Emerson felt that hiring a private provider to take her out met both of her needs and gave her the flexibility to choose when she wanted to go out. For her, it usually means an extended outing twice a month (approximately three hours each outing) and this ends up costing her about $200 per month.

Lack of transportation options is a huge issue for many seniors and was identified as a main priority in a recent senior’s survey through the Better At Home program. You can read the entire report at http://www.betterathome.ca/sites/default/files/CV_Final%20report_public_Part1_0.pdf.

Transportation options in the Comox Valley vary.

For example, Wheels for Wellness helps provide transportation to medical appointments over distances of 75 kilometres. Contact them at 250-338-0196.

HandyDART is a transportation service for individuals who are unable to use conventional transit service without assistance. Individuals must be registered with the handyDART office and book in advance.

When handyDART is unavailable, the Taxi Saver Program provides registered handyDART passengers with subsidized taxi service.  Contact them at 250-339-5442.

Many seniors who aren’t able to pay out of pocket for transportation rely on family and friends to assist in meeting their needs.

In Mrs. Emerson’s case, she uses her family for some transportation including to and from appointments. She is also quick to stress that she doesn’t want to ask for too much from her family even though they are always happy to help.

There are private seniors providers who service clients with transportation needs. A good place to research other options start is Appendix A of the report at www.betterathome.ca/sites/default/files/CV_Final%20report_public_Part2.pdf.

Some questions to ask when doing research:

• Rates and how the rates are broken down and/or what the rate include?

• Does the client pay for mileage and what is the cost per kilometre?

• What type of insurance coverage do the drivers/company have in place specific to transporting clients and commercial insurance?

• How are employees screened, i.e., driver’s abstracts, criminal record checks, etc.?

• What is the cancellation policy?

Thank you, Mrs. Emerson, for your great suggestion. I am also open to hearing more column ideas from any of my readers.

Wendy Johnstone is a gerontologist and is the founder of Keystone Eldercare Solutions. Her column runs in the Comox Valley Record every second Thursday.

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