Written by Scott Campbell, Cumbernauld Media's Senior Reporter.
Published at 00:59 on 24 June 2015
NHS Lanarkshire logo.
DRIVERS in Cumbernauld are being asked whether they would be willing to volunteering for the NHS’s volunteer drivers’ pool.
An appeal for fresh chauffeurs was issued by the health board earlier this week, in a bid to top up the number of people involved in delivering the Volunteer Driver Programme.
Led and coordinated by Shotts-based charity Getting Better Together in conjunction with Voluntary Action North Lanarkshire, the programme offers free transport to people over 65 who need to attend hospital and other medical appointments but have no other easily accessible means of getting there.
The service’s coordinator, Paul Bridges of Getting Better Together, explained: “Against a backdrop of people living longer, demand for this service is high.
“Latest figures show that volunteer drivers carried out over 2000 passenger journeys during 2014 – 2015.
“New volunteer drivers, using their own vehicles with fuel expenses provided, are needed to keep the service running at full capacity.”
The appeal comes at a vital time, with a new Act which requires health boards and local authorities to integrate their adult Health and Social Care Services coming into effect.
A key aim of integration is to provide person-centred care, health, planning and delivery so that people get the right advice and support in the right place and at the right time.
The independent sector, unpaid carers and voluntary organisations, like Getting Better Together and VANL, are key partners too.
Paul continued: “Partnership, with agencies including NHS Lanarkshire and Strathclyde Passenger Transport, has been key in getting this project off the ground and the feedback we’ve had so far from service users has been excellent.
“One case we had was an older person who has to attend regular appointments for check-up after illness.
“The person has told us that going to hospital – which is a fair distance from their home – brought some feelings of trepidation.
“The person, who lived alone, said the fact they didn’t have to worry or think about getting to and from the appointment, and negotiate public transport, really reduced that anxiety.”
Paul added: “For those of us who are mobile, we may take these trips for granted, but for older people having that link – and a friendly face to chat with to and from the visit – really can be a lifeline and source of reassurance.”
Janice Hewitt, Chief Accountable Officer for the North Lanarkshire Health and Social Care Partnership said: “This project is one of the many excellent initiatives in our communities helping people achieve better health and wellbeing outcomes. We’d encourage anyone interested in volunteering to get in contact.”
For more information on how to volunteer people can telephone 01501 825800. All volunteer Drivers will be PVG checked and will be provided with Passenger Assistant Training.
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