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.