Cheshire & Wirral Hubs Working together with PlusBus to provide transport to residents in rural Cheshire.

 

The Cheshire and Wirral Hubs Mobility Advice Service, delivered by Dial West Cheshire in partnership with Chester DriveAbility, was invited to give a talk about the Hubs Service at a retirement village in rural Cheshire, Tattenhall. One of the residents who has previously benefited from support at Dial West Cheshire’s Shopmobility Service was keen for other residents to know about how they too could be supported to increase their mobility by re-introducing the possibility for independent shopping and trips around the city. She thought this might be particularly beneficial for couples living at the retirement village who are facing the challenge where one of them has a mobility impairment and the other is caring for them. To be once again able to shop together would be immeasurably helpful. Also pointing out that the needs of the village are only going to increase; as the village “ages” more people are likely to need mobility assistance.

At the end of the summer the Hubs Adviser attended the retirement village together with a board member from Dial West Cheshire. A selection of living aids, including walking sticks, were taken for residents to sample and purchase and the Hubs Adviser gave a talk about the services available that could aid their mobility and how Hubs could support them. When chatting with residents it became apparent that although they have wonderful facilities on site and access to a bus for transport, this is usually booked up with hospital appointments. Residents who are now unable to drive felt very limited in their ability to leave the village and would really like to have more independence. Another issue that arose was the transport available isn’t suitable for those with increasing mobility difficulties or physical disabilities as it doesn’t have a tail lift. Furthermore, due to the rural location of the village, there wasn’t a community transport option available to the residents.

Gemma Coleman, left, (Hubs Mobility Service Adviser) with Simon Finnie (PlusBus Manager) standing infant of a green Plus Bus vehicle.

Gemma Coleman, left, (Hubs Mobility Service Adviser) with Simon Finnie (PlusBus Manager)

This inspired the Hubs Adviser to contact ECT Cheshire, who provide a Dial-a-ride/community transport service operating in Chester and Ellesmere Port known as PlusBus. A meeting was held with the Manager, and he was keen to explore how they could start expanding their area into more rural areas of Cheshire so that more people could benefit from the service. This seemed like a perfect first step as the retirement village could provide a group of people currently outside the service area. A joint talk was arranged for the PlusBus manager and the Hubs Adviser to gauge the demand for the service. This was very successful with a high turnout and initially 30 residents signed up to PlusBus. This has now increased to about 50 and is likely to continue to rise as more residents require support with their transport and mobility.

Working collaboratively with other services, this Hubs intervention has supported a community transport provider to extend their service area and has led to transport being offered in rural areas where there previously wasn’t any provision. Residents here are now able to plan days out in Chester for shopping or trips to enjoy the many other facilities and attractions the city offers. For those with mobility difficulties who might benefit from hiring a mobility scooter information about Dial West Cheshire’s Shopmobility Service has been provided. The PlusBus regularly uses Dial West Cheshire’s Shopmobility Service in Chester as a drop-off and pick-up point. Conveniently located in the heart of the city, the Shopmobility centre offers mobility scooters and wheelchairs for hire, but also acts as a friendly, welcoming, and accessible place where people can wait for PlusBus vehicles.

Looking ahead to the rest of the year Cheshire & Wirral Hubs and PlusBus plan to continue working together to improve rural transport provision with more joint talks in the diary. If you would like them to visit your group, organisation or community, please do get in touch.