A Driving Need: Study Connects Victoria Seniors with Volunteer Drivers

For seniors who are no longer able to drive, there remain few viable options for transportation. And while the James Bay Community Project (JBCP) is trying to help by offering free rides to important medical appointments, there currently aren’t enough volunteer drivers to meet the community’s high demand.

This issue is the driving force behind the partnership between the JBCP and UVic’s Institute on Aging and Lifelong Health (IALH) (formerly Centre on Aging).

Aiming to identify the best ways to recruit volunteer drivers, Dr. Holly Tuokko, professor of psychology at UVic, is working with the JBCP’s current volunteer drivers to explore what aspects of the experience they enjoy or find rewarding, as well as parts of the program that could be improved.

The JBCP is hoping to use the results of this study to better reflect incentives for joining in their recruitment strategies, and to improve the program itself.

Finding new ways to recruit volunteer drivers is a pursuit that goes beyond mere transportation. The study found that while volunteer drivers are a vital part of keeping Victoria seniors physically healthy, they also play an important role in maintaining our elders’ emotional well-being. “Sometimes these volunteers are the seniors’ only form of social contact,” says Dr. Vincenza Gruppuso, research coordinator at IALH. “They’re more than just drivers.”

Other organizations, such as Capital City Volunteers and Saanich Volunteer Services, have also taken an interest and contributed to the study, hoping to use the results to bolster their own volunteer recruitment.

Learn about volunteering for the James Bay Community Project.