Spotlight on Innovation: Mountain Empire Older Citizens Mobility Vision
We're highlighting the cutting-edge programs and successful strategies used by the 2018 recipients of n4a's Aging Innovations Awards in this weekly spotlight feature. This week we're focusing on Mountain Empire Older Citizens, Inc. (MEOC), winner in the Transportation & Mobility category.
Since 2017, MEOC's Mobility Vision Program has taken an innovative approach to transportation assistance specifically aimed at addressing the needs of older adults, people with disabilities and veterans who must attend frequent health appointments. Through the organization's Mobility Manager, Care Coordination staff and transportation aides, MEOC identifies patients who have special needs and provides extra attention to riders requiring additional assistance or who have weak or nonexistent support systems. The transportation assistance provided by the Mobility Vision Program offers door-to-door, door-through-door and on-board assistance, thanks to volunteers or paid aides. Such a service is particularly important, for instance, for dialysis patients who are exhausted after more than four hours of treatments or patients who have lengthy travel to and from rural areas.
The need for this program became clear when MEOC saw so many dialysis clients struggling with needing assistance in transportation before and after appointments. A one-year grant from the National Aging and Disability Transportation Center (a partnership of n4a, Easterseals and the Federal Transit Administration) allowed MEOC to lay the groundwork for a successful program. Partners include the Junction Center for Independent Living and both local colleges. For those looking to implement a similar program, MEOC recommends seeking volunteers from nursing departments at local colleges or universities to help with assisted transportation. The local faith-based community may also be a good source for volunteers.
During the first year, the program provided 750 one-way trips to medical appointments for individuals who have chronic conditions. Of those trips, 150 were for individuals needing assistance from an aide. One hundred of the riders were identified as having little or no supports at home. Also during the year, 3,600 one-way dialysis trips were also provided, an increase of 20 percent over the year before. These rides enabled some individuals to maintain their quality of life by remaining in their homes while attending necessary medical appointments. The program is on target to meet or exceed these numbers this year.
To learn more about this year's winners, read our press release and check out our book of winners to learn how your agency can implement this or similar programs in your community!