Volunteer driving programs or escorted driving programs have become an essential resource for older adults across our province. Many older adults rely on volunteer drivers as a method of transportation but also as a volunteer opportunity to give back to their community and support others who may require the service. Volunteer driving programs support older adults in accessing medical services, attending recreational opportunities, grocery shopping and even visiting with family and friends.
Many communities have found that by having a volunteer driving program, they are able to connect with older adults in a more personal way because those programs are most often door through door services. Door through door service is essential for many individuals because it ensures they arrive safely from their door directly to the entrance of where they’re needing to go and provides them with help with their bags or belongings.
While we know many older adults will outlive their driving ability, we need to be proactive in planning for those individuals who may not drive, may have never driven or do not have family and friends to support them. Developing driving programs utilising community members, businesses who support volunteerism, government and regular volunteers benefits everyone. A well-developed program can boost the economy by ensuring everyone can access goods and services and most importantly having adequate access to transportation options can reduce social isolation which is a preventative way to reduce healthcare costs associated with isolation in older adults.
Volunteers throughout our province provide such a tremendous amount of support to older adults and even more so when it comes to the number of transportation services they provide which fill in the gaps in our transportation system in Manitoba. As communities, we need to ensure that all groups are thinking about how we will continue to support local volunteer driving programs, either through continued volunteer recruitment, reduction in costs associated with criminal record checks in the City of Winnipeg or by creating incentive programs to encourage individuals to donate their time and the use of their vehicle to support this valuable cause.
If your community has a local volunteer driving program, I encourage you to reach out to learn about these services and or to see how you could be a benefit to the program. When communities come together to support one another, we can make a larger impact in reducing social isolation and provide oder adults with the comfort in knowing they can still participate in their community throughout the entire span of their life.
For more information on volunteer driving programs, please contact your local senior resource coordinator or senior resource finder. These service providers are valuable tools to support you and your transportation needs.
Transportation Options Network for Seniors (TONS) informs, educates, promotes and gives voice to the needs of transportation options that enhance quality of life for all Manitobans.
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