How can we help non-drivers to get around?
The proportion of older residents living in Waitaki district is higher than the New Zealand average, and higher still in the small rural communities outside of Oamaru. The World Health Organisation has identified that transport is a key factor in being an age-friendly community, because lack of transport is a barrier to community engagement and can contribute to social isolation.
Two of our Occupational Therapy students, Samantha Haley and Zoe Orme undertook a research project with the Waitaki District Council, studying this issue of transport for older residents. One initiative that is working well is the Waitaki Valley Vehicle Trust. The Trust has three vehicles and 20 volunteers who help people get up and down the valley, where there is no public bus service. The students' recommendations included replicating this in other parts of the district.
Sam and Zoe presented their results to the Positive Ageing Group in Oamaru on 7 November 2019. Their report was positively received. The students also produced a booklet about life without a car, to help meet a need for information about accessibility options.
Image credit: itravelNZ, used under Creative Commons licence CC BY 2.0.