When most people think of senior living communities, they might think of places that exclusively hold all events within the confines of the facility. While these communities do hold events for their residents within the campus, a lot of people may not know that they also provide transportation around town for appointments and other excursions.
Cathy Naro, campus transportation manager at Menorah Park in Beachwood, and Carol Ruff, executive director of Gates Mills Club in Mayfield Heights, said their communities offer consistent transportation for their residents within a 10-mile radius.
Ruff said Gates Mills Club provides medical transportation on Mondays and Wednesdays between 8 and 10:30 a.m. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, residents can go grocery shopping at places such as Target and Giant Eagle. Twice a month, residents go out to lunch at the destination of their choosing.
“We let them kind of think about it,” Ruff said. “Sometimes, they go to Angelo’s. They’ve gone to many different restaurants all over the city. And they go out for ice cream. They’ll take a country drive. Maybe go down Chagrin River Road or Gates Mills (Boulevard) just to take a ride. No specific destination in mind, but they’ll just take a drive.”
Menorah Park operates on a similar schedule. They also schedule three trips per week to different grocery stores around town. They will also go to attractions such as Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and Classic Park, home of the Lake County Captains baseball team. On top of scheduled events, residents can use transportation seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For people who don’t live at Menorah Park, but wish to use Peter B. Lewis Aquatic & Therapy Center, there are community pickups for those within 10 miles of Menorah Park.
“Each of our locations has these outings scheduled in groups,” Naro said. “And then throughout those seven days, if they want to choose something a little more intimate, there’s the flexibility to do that. In addition to doctor’s appointments or something like that, if they want to go to the orchestra with a friend of theirs, they can schedule our transportation to go to the orchestra.”
She said having transportation on-call for most of the day allows residents to have more control over their day.
“It’s very empowering to still be able to make plans and do what you’d like to do,” Naro said. “It’s very important for physical and emotional health. We schedule all their doctor’s appointments, and then they’re still able to enjoy family, friends and any hobbies that they have outside of their home. It gives them a sense of independence and freedom.”
Ruff said this is especially helpful for those residents whose families may not be able to take them to medical appointments.
“That’s a real concern,” Ruff said. “But, there’s been hardly any residents that haven’t been able to get medical transport when necessary. And I think for the residents, knowing that they don’t have to depend on their families, I think it instills a greater sense of independence for them, that they’re not having to lean on their families to pick up things from the store or take them shopping.
“And it gives them so much independence to be able to get on the bus and go shopping, even if they’re just going to buy a loaf of bread or something to drink.”
Both of these communities hire their own drivers for these excursions, along with proper equipment in the vehicles such as wheelchair lifts. Naro said this gives great benefits, including building a sense of comfort between drivers and residents.
“We have two drivers that have been with us for over 16 years,” she said. “There’s such tremendous peace of mind when you’ve got those relationships with the people who are driving you to appointments. They join in on the conversations about some of the venues and participate in conversations with the residents. It adds to the experience.”