It’s one thing to wait in a doctor’s office for your own appointment. It’s another thing entirely to wait with someone, say your mom.
Yet, with South Sound’s aging population, more sons, daughters and other relatives are finding themselves in this position.
Now, Envoy America, based in Arizona, is in service for a large chunk of the Interstate 5 corridor, from Thurston to King counties. It also has expanded to Kitsap County. The company also is hiring as many as 100 drivers.
Broadly defined, the company’s drivers take seniors on daily trips where they might need assistance, such as the grocery store, doctor’s appointments or religious services.
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“We provide assistance and companionship,” said Monica Escalante, Envoy America’s director of operations for Seattle. “If they need to go to the beauty salon or theater — we’ve done sporting events — basically anywhere they need to go and need support getting there, we can help them.”
This senior shuttle service charges by the hour: $39 an hour for transport, $20 an hour for waiting.
Customers should assess their needs and what their own time is worth when considering using Envoy America as opposed to Uber, a cab or other ride-hailing service. For seniors making short, two- to three-mile trips, this might not be the right option for them from a financial standpoint.
“But if they need to go 8, 10 or more miles of travel, and they need extra assistance, then we can save them about 20 percent or more over taxi services,” Escalante said.
She emphasized that Envoy’s drivers receive specialized training in dealing with an older population, including recognizing signs of dementia and refocusing conversations that may be veering toward agitation or repetition, for example. They also receive CPR training.
Most reservations are made over the phone as many clients “love the human interaction,” according to Escalante.
Family members and caretakers also can make reservations for a senior family member online or by email.
Scheduling can happen six months in advance or up to the day before a ride is needed.
“The drivers will call the night before and introduce themselves and go over details of trip, and then it’s door-to-door service,” Escalante explained.
“We communicate really well with passengers, families and social workers, so drivers are trained to report back to us on certain things, such as if they notice a person becoming more forgetful.”
And, for those looking for work, here’s the job part: Envoy America needs drivers in this region.
“Right now we have 32 drivers with another 6 coming on in two weeks, and we’re still hiring,” Escalante said. “Demand for the service is growing and is so widespread —we need about another 50-100 for this area alone.”
It takes the right kind of individual to be a driver, Escalante noted.
“We look for those with personal experience caring for a loved one who will bring empathy,” she said.
All driver candidates undergo background checks.
The positions pay $20 an hour, and drivers use their own vehicles. The company is hiring both full- and part-time positions for the area. To apply, go to https://envoyamerica.com/careers/