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Assisted Living Resident Transportation: Beyond the Occasional Doctor’s Appointment

Multipassenger minibuses like this one have a wheelchair lift for residents in wheelchairs. MobilityWorks sells and services commercial vehicles of all types, including those used by assisted living centers located throughout the country.

Years ago, a trip to the doctor’s office for a senior housing resident in a wheelchair was often the only connection they had to the outside world. That was yesterday. Today’s message is that people living in assisted living centers and retirement communities can and do remain very active. Brochures and websites for elder care facilities now advertise their ability to provide transportation to hairdressers, shopping centers, religious services, outings and many other daily activities, even on short notice. Adequate transportation enables elderly residents to live more independently and prevent feelings of isolation. For this reason, centers are changing the way they manage and organize outside activities, giving residents more choices on what they would like to do on a daily basis.

“Shuttle buses are moving billboards that provide continuous, visual advertisements of the senior living center to the community.”

What differentiates one facility from another in meeting the needs of active senior lifestyles can often be found outside the center, ready to take a group of seniors on the road. It’s the numerous minibuses and wheelchair-accessible vans, in many shapes and sizes, that provide this valuable service. Assisted living centers with an ample fleet of shuttle buses and wheelchair vans are discovering that their vehicles are a noticeable differentiator. Families that help with evaluating assisted living centers often look to transportation services as an indicator of whether their parent or grandparent is going to be able to continue enjoying the activities they’re accustomed to.

From a marketing perspective, shuttle buses are moving billboards that provide continuous, visual advertisements of the senior living center to the community. For operational and medical purposes, they are vital to the services being provided. While many facilities contract for medical ambulatory type trips, the dynamics and importance to customer satisfaction in getting residents to outside activities has changed how organizations view their transport capacity. By increasing their transportation capabilities and marketing appeal with more activity options, a facility has a greater chance of keeping their units filled.

Centers today can have several multipassenger vehicles on the road at any given time, transporting one or a dozen residents to and from various destinations. Almost all of these transport vehicles have a wheelchair lift and space for wheelchair passengers, a necessary feature in providing mobility and freedom for many residents. Some vehicles can accommodate several wheelchairs, while others can only fit one or two at a time. All wheelchair vans have special tie-down systems in place for keeping wheelchairs in place and for passenger safety.

Whether it’s a 12-person minibus with wheelchair accessibility or a traditional van with a fold-out lift, the right combination of vehicles in a fleet can provide a great service for residents and an opportunity for growth. Successful centers are an active participant with its neighboring communities and the senior group events that bring friends together. Wheelchair-accessible buses and vans provide more opportunities for continued community involvement and increased awareness to potential new residents. The ability to be flexible and creative with providing transport services will become increasingly more important for centers in the future.

To learn more about our Commercial Vans for assisted living centers and senior care transportation, go to MobilityWorks Commercial.

This article was originally written by Guy Hanford for ‘Promoting Excellence’ magazine published by the Health Care Association of Michigan (HCAM). The publication is distributed to long-term care professionals throughout the state of Michigan. Mr. Hanford is the Director of Marketing for MobilityWorks.

New Rubberized Floors in Wheelchair Minivans a Noticeable Long-Lasting Feature

New rubberized flooring materials provide for easier wheelchair maneuverability and cleaning.

Advanced Materials Provide a Smoother Transition, Improved Maneuverability and Cleanup

Without proper maintenance, prolonged use of heavier power wheelchairs and scooters can begin taking their toll on a minivan’s carpeted flooring materials. Road salt is also a major concern in cold-weather areas, with salt residue increasing the potential for carpet deterioration. These issues can lead to problems with lifting, carpet tears and general cleanup. For newer van owners, however, those concerns are becoming a thing of the past. In many of our 2013 models, and now almost all new 2014 side entry make and model conversions, rubberized flooring has become one of the more popular options being asked about.

Over the last few years, wheelchair minivan conversion companies, such as Braun and VMI, have been experimenting with alternatives to carpeted flooring. New advanced, longer-lasting rubberized materials have been introduced in most of the newer vans – with great success and appreciation. The response from our clients to this improved feature has been extremely positive. Our repeat van buyers immediately notice the new rubber flooring and recognize its many benefits. With rubberized flooring, L-track for wheelchair tie-downs are also pre-installed for improved durability and a smoother floor. Removable front seat-bases are also more easily rolled in and out of the vehicles. And cleaning the floor is now a breeze.

Rubberized floors are now available (as an option) in 90% of the brand new side-entry and rear-entry accessible minivans being sold at MobilityWorks. Anticipating its popularity, many of our pre-ordered stock units available for sale at our showrooms already have them installed. With newer features and improvements being added every year, including step-up flares (below the front doors), reduced noise, and fold-down foot rests for the rear bench, people with a disability and their families are able to enjoy a more enhanced, perfected vehicle.

Stop In

If you haven’t seen the newer vans lately, stop in at one of our 30 locations for a demonstration. Even if you’re just looking and want to ask questions, we’d love to have you come in and meet with a member of our team. Call us toll-free at 1-877-275-4907 to schedule a demonstration and test ride.

A smoother transition from floor to wheelchair ramp and easier cleanup is a noticeable benefit in many of the newer vans with rubberized flooring at MobilityWorks.

Got Any Improvement Ideas? Get a Free Gift!

Let us know your ideas on improving vehicle conversions so that we can make them better for everyone. Write your ideas to marketing@mobilityworks.com. Please include your name and address so that we can send you progress notes on your suggestion. The first 10 people with realistic suggestions will get a FREE copy of Ralph Braun’s 200-page biographical hard-cover story called “Rise Above”. Ralph Braun (1940-2013) started The Braun Corporation creating wheelchair lifts and van solutions for his own mobility needs after being diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy at a very young age. He was a pioneer in the mobility industry and his story is an inspiration to all Americans, with or without disabilities.

MobilityWorks Commercial Customer Named Paratransit Operator of the Year

Congratulations to long-time MobilityWorks Commercial customer Bud Williams for being named the 2013 National Paratransit Operator of the Year by the Taxi, Limousine & Paratransit Association (TLPA). Bud leads his family-run company, Wheelchair Transport Service (WTS) of Clearwater, FL, with integrity and customer service that goes beyond most companies in the industry. He has been with WTS since 1981, starting as a driver and dispatcher, and working his way up.

Al Legasse, CEO of TLPA, said “This family-owned business is truly one to be emulated.” During the past year FEMA was in need of assistance from WTS, and Bud and his team immediately sprang into action deploying 10 vehicles to hard-hit areas.

It is so good to know the vans MobilityWorks builds with such care and quality are doing such good, not just in an emergency, but to transport those in need every day. You can find out more about Bud Williams and WTS at their website www.wheelchairtransport.com.

Wheelchair Transportation Services

Are You Looking to Trade or Sell Your Wheelchair Van?

Used Conversion Vans and Non-Adaptive Autos Can be Used Toward a Down Payment

This is a 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan with a Braun Entervan conversion. The Grand Caravan is our most popular minivan.

We often get phone calls or e-mails asking if we take trade-ins — or if we’re interested in purchasing a used accessible van. In some cases, the trade-in vehicle is a non-adaptive regular automobile, van, SUV  or truck. The answer in all cases is yes. For trade-ins, we can give you a fair market value for your adaptive and non-adaptive vehicle. The trade-in vehicle can be used toward a down payment on any new or used wheelchair van for sale. We do all the paperwork on your trade-in as part of the financing process. All you need is the title.

If you’re looking to trade in your current wheelchair van or looking to sell one that is no longer being used, fill out our online request form here. We can have a representative in your area respond within 24 hours. Live on-site inspections and a test drive by one of our technicians may be required before a final assessment and offer can be made.

What If I don’t Live Near One of Your Locations?

If you live outside of our service area and have a converted van for sale, we have a national buying specialist who handles all of our out-of-area used vehicle purchases. Simply use the same trade-in request form and make sure to provide all of your location details.

BraunAbility Announces New Ford Explorer Concept SUV for Wheelchair Drivers

Vehicle Developments Will Mean More Choices for Disabled Drivers in the Future

The new Ford Explorer concept SUV by BraunAbility.

With only a handful of viable minivan options to choose from for wheelchair accessibility, and a growing trend in the automotive sector for people wanting to drive SUVs and Cross-Overs, one of the large converters was bound to come along with an SUV option. The Ford Explorer concept vehicle recently announced by BraunAbility and West Coast Customs, with financial aid from Schmidt Motorsports, may be just the start of a growing trend in vehicles being available for people who want something other than a van. Despite significant design upgrades to the minivan in the last decade, for some people the “soccer mom” stigma still exists.

“We wanted to radically change how people think about mobility vehicles. This fantastic mobility concept SUV is mission accomplished,” said Sam Schmidt, co-owner of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

Mobility vehicles require a lot of engineering and testing before they can become available to the public. Economically, the chassis make and model needs to have a solid history of being a reliable, attractive and affordable option for a converter to make the kind of investment necessary to make that happen. For BraunAbility, the Ford Explorer answers the call on all three points. But that’s just the start. The concept vehicle was more than a year in the making, with much more work to do to make it “assembly-line” ready. For now, there has been no announcement on when the Explorer will actually go into production. But it will happen and someday soon.

We are in for an exciting time as more chassis become available. Perhaps it will be the Range Rover or Chevy Tahoe – or something totally unexpected like the Nissan Pathfinder. In either case, it’s a positive sign that the industry is evolving, adding more choices for wheelchair drivers and passengers. As the largest dealer in the United States of BraunAbility wheelchair vans, MobilityWorks is very excited about what the future may hold for our clients. Congratulations to our business partner BraunAbility and to Sam Schmidt for their dedication to our industry and the people we serve.

*BraunAbility Ford Explorer photo courtesy of BraunAbility and Schmidt Peterson Motor Sports