Providing assistance and accompaniment for seniors and others in need of help is the basis behind a new Central Alberta company called Driving Miss Daisy.
Sally Weenink, with the help of her husband Ken, just started the company which is franchised out of B.C.
“I saw a need for this in Central Alberta,” says Sally. “There are a lot of seniors here and as baby boomers age this segment of the population will continue to grow. I was fortunate enough to be raised around my grandparents, and my parents live nearby and I can help them, but these days many seniors are without family to help them do things like get to a doctor’s appointment.
“And even when there is family nearby, people are often too busy to help, especially during working hours.”
Based just outside of Lacombe, Driving Miss Daisy covers Red Deer, Sylvan Lake, Lacombe and Ponoka and can, if need be, go as far as Innisfail or Rimbey.
“We can help with almost anything from medical appointments, shopping, liaison between medical staff and family to companionship for social events or people with Alzheimers, even lifts to the airport or vacation accompaniment,” she said.
“We don’t drop people off at the door, we take them to the office or back to their room as the case may be. One senior we talked to says she doesn’t like taking a cab because the driver never talks to them. Seniors are often lonely and don’t feel valued. Companionship is sometimes what they need most and it’s big part of our service.
“A service like this also allows seniors to stay in their homes a lot longer and right now there’s a shortage of alternative places for them to go.”
As Ken pointed out, older people often also feel vulnerable if they have to sit outside on a bench waiting for a cab or standing on the curb.
“That doesn’t happen with us. Seniors are a big part of our society, they helped build the standard of life we enjoy and should still be able to get out easily when they’ve stopped driving.”
To start their business the Weeninks both got their Class 4 licences, had criminal record checks and took first aid, CPR and fibrillation courses.
A Canadian company that started in Alberta in 2002, Driving Miss Daisy is now based in B.C. and has over 40 franchises in B.C. and Alberta with a recent expansion into Ontario. Nearby franchises include Calgary, Wetaskiwin and Edmonton.
More information is available at www.drivingmissdaisy.net.