Burnaby seniors' bus takes them all around the town

Residents of the Swedish Canadian Assisted Living Residence have been given the gift of freedom with a new passenger bus.

The bus, which was purchased at the beginning of the year, took its maiden voyage to Coquitlam Centre with 10 residents, two wheelchairs and two staff members on Friday, April 6, according to a press release from the residence.

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“The freedom of being able to leave and go out into the community, doing different activities, even if it is just going to a shopping centre and just getting out, that makes a big difference,” Tyson Ashford, general manager of Swedish Canadian Village, told the NOW.

 Prior to the purchase of the bus, residents would take the HandyDART for outings, he explained, and they often had to divide into two groups because there weren’t enough seats.

“As a group instead of taking two HandyDARTs and having two groups, everybody can sit together and enjoy it,” Ashford said. “It’s just really giving a lot more freedom to the residents instead of having to rely on taxis and HandyDART and things like that to get out in the community.”

The cost was prohibitive with the HandyDART trips, as well, he said.

“The residents had to pay for themselves, so it really limited the people who would actually volunteer [to go],” he explained. “Now that we do it all in-house, we’re seeing people that didn’t normally go out on trips, who were kind of more secluded in their rooms.”

The bus does two trips a week – this week, residents visited a bird sanctuary and went bowling, according to Ashford.

So far, the feedback has been positive, both from residents and their loved ones, he said. The bus can seat 14 to 16 passengers, depending on how many wheelchairs and walkers are aboard, and the trips are usually full.

“We were barely seeing six to eight people on our outings when we took HandyDART, now we’ve doubled that,” he said.

Getting the bus took some doing, he added, saying he had been with the village for three and a half years, and they had been working towards this goal during that time.

“I really have to thank the Swedish community,” he said, regarding donations.

Everyone came together on the project, he added, saying administration worked on the policies.

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