Navigating Senior Facility Transportation
January 12, 2022
January 12, 2022
Sarah Pontier Ackerman
Deciding to no longer drive is a big deal, and you’re not alone! Over a third of seniors say they only feel comfortable driving during the day due to a health or physical reason and almost 20% of seniors don’t drive at all. That means about 50% of seniors aren’t able to independently drive whenever they want. While it’s not always the primary reason for older adults to make a lifestyle change to leave their home, it is often an important factor in choosing to make the shift to a senior facility.
Transportation is a key senior facility amenity
When evaluating senior living options, the ability to get off campus is important to maintaining your health and happiness. Meaning, transportation options are a key amenity to understand when comparing your options.
The ability to travel off campus allows older adults to maintain a healthy lifestyle by fighting social isolation. Safe transportation is a gateway to continuing to see friends and family, maintain hobbies, volunteer efforts or even part-time work.
Beyond happiness, transportation is also key to health. While some senior facilities may have onsite medical staff or amenities, often residents need to go off campus to receive medical treatment. Having access to trusted transportation, when you need it, is key to ensuring you get to your appointments!
Traditional facility transportation falls shorts
While senior facilities may speak highly of the “variety of options” they have, it’s important to understand exactly what those options actually mean for your travel. And ultimately, how it may impact your ability to easily get around as well as your quality of care.
Bus systems are a popular choice for many facilities. Unfortunately, buses often operate with inflexible schedules and routes. That means, you might not be able to get to your favorite grocery store or hair dresser. It may also mean you're restricted to going to the store only certain days of the week and get stuck at a location waiting for the bus to return. With these limitations, it also means all residents on the bus typically get off and on at the same time at the same location. This can be referred to as the “parade” effect, which can lead to unwanted attention as well as longer errand times.
When going outside of the bus system becomes necessary, like going to a doctor’s appointment or due to buses being grounded as a result of Covid-19, facilities often have the ability to schedule a one-off ride. This typically includes two options: a facility staff driver option and a rideshare option.
Having a staff driver assist you with a one-off ride allows you to ride with someone familiar but often these rides can only occur during certain hours of the day - as staff are traditionally busy with other roles. While it is more personal, senior facilities often ask staff drivers to use their own vehicle which are not vetted for cleanliness or safety. This can leave residents vulnerable to rides that aren’t as comfortable or safe as they might expect.
Rideshare vehicles are often inexpensive and responsive to last minute requests, but there are several sources that call into question the safety and usability of these services for seniors. For example, there are known issues with trusting drivers around payment and proof that rideshare isn’t a great option for seniors getting to medical appointments.
Rideshare companies also have been known to leave seniors and those with disabilities stranded - without the rider knowing how to get themselves back to their facility. Because rideshare apps can be difficult to use or the vehicle may be difficult to find, impatient drivers are only one factor that may impact your ability to get back home.
While bus systems and staff drivers often have the added benefit of getting to know residents over time, rideshare companies take no effort to understand or get to know their riders or even assist those riders getting in and out of the vehicle, leaving many older adults to feel like their care is being sacrificed for a discounted price.
Onward is a great fit!
Onward Rides is a unique solution for older adults seeking a transportation company that specializes in assisting riders throughout their trip. Our trained drivers are compassionate and capable of helping riders with anything from personal errands to medical appointments and everything in between.
Some senior facilities are integrated with Onward Rides as a part of their transportation amenity packages. If your senior facility doesn’t offer this yet, don’t worry! We allow individuals to book rides with us too by calling our friendly Concierge team to get set up with their first ride.
Our rider, Don M. had this to say about using our service, “It’s nice the driver waits for you for your return trip. It's really convenient not having to look for someone to pick you up or try to find them. Sometimes the internet doesn’t work and you can be left with other services. I also like that drivers go out of their way to help you. I really appreciate that they come to the door and help you in and out of the car - Uber doesn't do that.”
With a Concierge team available by phone at 1-800-700-4797 and an app for those who are more tech-savy, Onward works to meet our customers where they are by understanding their facility or residents needs and ensuring our service exceeds expectations. Give us a call today to book your ride today!