By Chris Ross
Reliable senior transportation is a core part of providing senior living services. This transport is provided for variety of reasons — whether it is ensuring residents of senior living facilities get to their treatments and appointments or taking them on outings and shopping trips. This is true for independent living centers, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and adult day centers alike — transportation is central to providing both quality care and a high quality of life. But for many senior living centers, it can be a daunting challenge to provide this transportation cost-effectively, safely, and in a timely manner. While some facilities invest in their own vehicles and drivers, it’s often more cost-effective, less risky and more reliable to outsource transportation to a reputable non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) partner.
Why Outsource Senior Transportation?
Creating and managing a senior transportation program requires specialized expertise, dedicated resources and a cohesive plan for mitigating risks. In looking to implement a transportation program at a senior living facility, you must first consider a range of factors:
- Vehicles. Senior transportation requires safe, ADA-compliant, wheelchair and stretcher transportation vehicles, which can be pricey
- Fuel and maintenance costs. These can add up quickly, especially for older vehicles
- Drivers. Not just anyone can transport seniors; drivers must be thoroughly screened and trained as well as properly managed
- Worker’s compensation. A specialized NEMT takes on worker’s compensation liability for drivers, and NEMT drivers are trained to lift and move passengers, reducing driver injuries
- Liability and insurance costs. Vehicles, drivers and senior living facilities must all be insured in case there’s an accident of any kind; a specialized NEMT can take on these risks
- Legal documentation, administration, planning and technology. A proper transportation program can only exist with the right support, which costs significant time and money
Bottom line, a complete program takes more than a car and a driver, and for many facilities, it can be too much to manage internally. Experienced NEMTs with the right people, processes and technology can help create senior transportation programs — so facility management and caregivers can focus on providing quality facility operations and resident care.
Specialized NEMTs can provide both the trained drivers and specialized vehicles necessary to create a quality senior living transportation program. When evaluating NEMTs, consider these minimum qualifications:
- Fleet to accommodate a flexible number of passengers and volume of rides
- Vehicles that are inspected, insured, registered, and compliant with federal, state, local, and ADA standards
- Wheelchair and stretcher transportation setups as well as ambulatory vehicles for those who are mobile
- Thorough screening program for drivers
- Drivers who are fully insured and trained in wheelchair transportation, CPR, defensive driving, and assisting those with disabilities and special needs
- Professionalism, via having drivers arrive in uniforms and driving marked vehicles
Technology Impacts Transportation Service
Just as with so many other aspects of facility management, technology has transformed transportation, and quality NEMTs will be outfitted with the support systems to plan and deliver efficient programs. Some examples include:
- GPS systems and security cameras on vehicles
- Secure key fobs that identify who is driving a vehicle
- Route tracking and reporting software that logs where a vehicle is at all times, the speed of the vehicle and any events during a route
- Secure, constant communication with drivers
- System backups, such as redundant Internet systems
When it comes to senior transportation, programs should not be one size fits all. A partner should be flexible to your organization’s needs. For example, quality partners can often:
- Adapt to your billing system
- Offer early morning pickups, evening runs, and weekend runs
- Provide dedicated drivers who work exclusively with your facilities
- Complement existing senior transportation programs
- Provide co-branding opportunities — such as if you own your own vehicles and they have your name on them, but you need a firm to staff and manage them
- Reduce rates with efficient routing
- Scale the volume of rides to your needs as they change
- Support group outings
Working with an NEMT is often a more cost-effective, less risky, and more reliable solution to providing transportation as part of senior living service offerings.
Ross is the vice president of sales for Express Medical Transporters, a St. Louis based company specializing in non-emergency medical transportation. His 21 years of experience has focused on understanding the needs of the healthcare and education communities and creating transportation solutions to meet them. Ross collaborates with an internal Client Advocacy Team to facilitate high standards of service and resolve customers’ concerns and issues.