By Petrina Wright | Posted: Sunday November 12, 2023
Maintaining independence and community connections are vital aspirations for the well-being of any older person.
Enliven is an agent of the Total Mobility Scheme which helps to ensure those outcomes are met for people aged 65 and over living in the community. The service is also offered in its care homes.
“Through our SupportLink services, Presbyterian Support Southland aims to help our kaumatua/older people maintain their independence and keep socially connected,” Enliven Supported Living and Community Services manager Juliana Baxter said.
“The Total Mobility Scheme is a great fit for us as it helps us to achieve those goals by making taxi services more affordable for those individuals who qualify for this service.”
The nationwide scheme provides subsidised transport for people with impairments which prevent them from driving and accessing bus transportation without help or assistance. The impairment could be physical, sensory, intellectual, neurological or psychological.
Enliven SupportLink coordinators conduct the assessments for older clients in the community. Trained staff do the assessments for residents in the care homes. Some agencies charge a fee but Enliven provides the service free of charge.
The Invercargill City Council (ICC) administers the scheme in Southland on behalf of Invercargill City, Southland and Gore district councils. Agents conduct the assessments and ICC staff process the applications and issue a Ridewise card to those approved. Ridewise cardholders can access half-price fares from participating taxi companies for trips up to a maximum of $50 one way.
SupportLink Gore coordinator Patricia Officer-Young said it was a brilliant scheme, providing people with impairments with a convenient door-to-door service. A family member or friend could also travel with them.
“People are able to visit their friends, go shopping, do all those appointments which helps them to maintain their independence.”
Total Mobility cardholder Heather Fennessy, of Gore said the scheme was the best thing to happen to her since she became visually impaired and could no longer drive. As there was no public bus service in Gore, she would have had to rely on her family to take her places if it wasn’t for the Total Mobility Scheme.
With the discounted fares, it meant she was able to maintain her friendships and social activities, she said.
“Without the card I would have been restricted on my travels and become very reliant on family to be my transport.
“I definitely recommend the service to others. It is a very easy process to get the card.
“I am a wee bit spoilt.”
One of 19 agencies approved to do assessments in Southland and Gore, Enliven has the second highest number of active clients under its care – 432 clients or 23% of the total client base in Southland.
SupportLink is a service of Enliven Southland, supporting older people living in their own homes so they can maintain their independence. As well as doing Total Mobility assessments, SupportLink volunteers provide regular companionship with older people living in the community, connecting them to coffee clubs and social activities, and supporting them while spouses or carers take time out.
· For more information about the Total Mobility Scheme and a list of participating taxi companies, go to: https://icc.govt.nz/community/total-mobility/. Alternatively, to arrange an assessment, you can contact our SupportLink coordinators Tui-Susan Hill (Invercargill) on 03 211 8256 or Patricia Officer-Young (Gore) on 03 208 0864.