Travelers Aid's Senior Ride program helps improve access to health care for vulnerable populations by making free transportation to medical care available for very low income elderly and adults with disabilities.
Research estimates that one in five Americans age 65 and older no longer drive and people outlive their ability to drive an average of 6 to 11 years. Oftentimes there are health or safety issues that create a dependence upon other sources for transportation needs. Without available, affordable, and accessible transportation there is a risk for deteriorated health, isolation, and an overall diminished quality of health. Lack of transportation is a barrier to health care. It is compounded for people of low income and especially so for the elderly and the disabled, creating a distinct transportation disadvantage. Alleviating transportation barriers can be instrumental in the target groups' ability to access health care.
Rather than put additional vehicles on the road, Senior Ride purchases trips through established transportation vendors that service the same or similar populations. Ride purchase covers the transportation provider's cost of fuel, maintenance, insurance, driver salaries, etc... Senior Ride clients are grouped with people from other programs/agencies for more efficient transportation. Health care providers, social service programs and housing managers are able to directly refer transportation disadvantaged patients/clients for medical transportation services.
Senior Ride provides a practical service and offers an immediate solution for very low income older adults and adults with disabilities who are transportation disadvantaged. We bring to the table an operational program with a track record. Program funding and operations is a collaboration of federal, community, nonprofit, and private resources.
Senior Ride removes a financial barrier to transportation access via ride cost subsidies and helps close the transportation gap for adults who are transportation disadvantaged due to income and age or health/disability. The program's goal is to provide a service that will: contribute to the individual's improved or sustained overall quality of health; contribute to the individual's ability to continue living independently; reduce isolation; reduce the number of missed appointments; and reduce the need for emergency room visits and hospital admissions. In 2016 Senior Ride provided nearly 11,000 rides to 556 very low income elderly and disabled adults averaging over 900 rides for 172 individuals each month.
Senior Ride receives Federal Section 5310 (transportation for elderly and disabled) grant funds. This grant provides an 80/20 match for direct transportation expenses (ride purchases). This means that for every $1 in community generated funding support, the federal grant will reimburse $0.80! In 2016 Senior Ride received $83,386 in federal grant reimbursements.
In January we mailed out a consumer survey to 200 of our 2016 consumers and experienced a 40% return rate.
Of these respondents:
75% are age 60 or older
84% are females
81% are African-American
79% said they had absolutely no other means of transportation or would have no choice but to pay for public or private transportation
21% said they would have to rely on family or friends to get to and from medical appointments
94% said they would have a significant to serious financial hardship in paying for transportation
74% rated their overall health as improved or about the same as the previous year
82% reported their ability to live independently as improved or about the same as the previous year
59% said they missed fewer medical appointments in 2016 than they did in 2015
78% said they had none or fewer emergency room visits in 2016 than they did in 2015
Mrs. M, who is 94 years old, lives alone in her Fairfield home. Her Social Security is about $800 a month and after paying bills she doesn't have much left over. She's in pretty good health but has regular doctor appointments to monitor chronic hypertension and rheumatoid arthritis. Up until she was 90 years old she was driving herself to her appointments but then, because of her health and increasing frailty, her doctor told her it was no longer safe. That's when a neighbor referred her to Travelers Aid. Now Mrs. M calls us when she has a doctor appointment and through
our Senior Ride Program, we arrange for her transportation and pay for it on her behalf. On our annual consumer survey Mrs. M. sent us a note...."Your program has helped me very much since I am no longer able to drive back and forth to the doctor. Thank you very much."
Mrs. B. is 91 years old and lives alone in the southwest area of Birmingham. Her Social Security benefits are around around $900 a month. Her only other family member in Birmingham is her younger sister who is 90 years old and also a Travelers Aid client. Mrs. B. has depended on our Senior Ride Program to get to and from her doctor appointments for many years now. On our annual consumer survey Mrs. B. wrote..."This program means everything to me. Without it I would be in a bad fix. I can't thank you enough. I am living on a fixed income. I want to thank everyone connected with Travelers Aid."
Mrs. S. is 84 years old and lives in one of the senior housing communities. She has depended on Senior Ride to get to and from her doctor appointments for the past 8 years. She is a cancer survivor who is now in fairly good health but is dedicated to preventive care and regular check ups. On our annual consumer survey Mrs. S. wrote..."Travelers Aid is so very, very important to me. My income is almost $800 a month. My Blue Cross payment is $277. Rent is $156. Don't have a car. Surely can't afford cab fare any place. Thanks for all you do for me. Your part in keeping me well is vital. God bless you."
Mrs. C. is 79 years old and lives in one of the senior housing communities. She began depending Senior Ride to get to and from her doctor appointments about 10 years ago when St. Vincent's discontinued its van service. Mrs. C. has several serious health issues including COPD, asthma, and a degenerative tissue disease. She requires constant oxygen intake and uses a portable oxygen tank when she goes out. On our annual consumer survey Mrs. C. wrote..."It has been the most wonderful program for me since I cannot drive anymore. I thank everyone who works there, they are very kind. I also thank all the companies and patrons that finance Travelers Aid."
Connecting low income elderly and adults with disabilities to medical care and a healthier quality of life.