Care and compassion Courage and initiative People

Driving companionship

Helen’s car Tinkerbell is easy for passengers to get in and out of.

Helen Scott wants to put adventure back into the lives of isolated elderly people who need to reconnect with the communities they live in.

The north Wellington resident has given up her volunteer ambulance work to begin a free service called Golden Oldies Adventures. It is aimed at elderly people who would like to get out and about more, meet new people and be better connected to their communities.

“Making their worlds wider,” is the aim of Helen, who completed a nursing degree after raising her three children.

For the past four years Helen has worked as a volunteer ambulance first responder and saw too many elderly people living on their own, unable to get out and isolated from their communities.

Inspired by activities

She is also a volunteer at Mary Potter Hospice in Wellington one day a week in the palliative care day unit. Outpatients visit for a day of arts and crafts and other planned activities and she saw the happiness it brought to their lives and the sense of community they get from connecting with other people.

A Lisa O’Neill motivational course focused Helen to ask what she wanted to contribute to the world – “What are you good at, what’s your purpose?”

My purpose,” says Helen, “is making people happy and making people smile.”

The course and her volunteer activities helped crystallise the need and how she should could help.

“I’d like to do things for people that are outside the box.”

Trialling the concept

After she gave up the ambulance volunteer work, she had her car, called Tinkerbell, sign written and asked her aunt, Sue Kovacs, to trial the new service, which she offers free.

Helen with her terrier pug-cross, Paccuun, and trusty car, Tinkerbell.

For the trial Helen drove Sue around Karori before they had lunch and a tour of Wellington’s northern suburbs. Sue found Helen’s car easy to get in and out of.

Sue, who no longer drives and does not get out a lot, says she knows many people who would appreciate being taken on an outing.

Another person Helen took for a drive is Toula from Island Bay.

For medical reasons Toula has been recommend not to drive far herself. On the drive with Helen they enjoyed the Botanic Gardens where they walked among the roses, followed by lunch.

Helen was “lovely,” easy to talk to and Golden Oldies Adventures is definitely recommended, Toula said.

Making their world bigger

Helen has spent a lot of time making contacts with local groups to which she could introduce people.

She suspects many older people, especially those on their own, don’t know the extent of local groups where they could meet others.

People lose confidence and the world becomes just so small.”

Outings, individually or in groups of up to three, will be tailor-made to each person’s interests. This could be a drive to the beach, local scenery, going to a movie or just out for morning tea. For the more adventurous and, depending on their mobility, it could be going for a bushwalk or playing mini golf.

For many, driving them around their community and catching up with changes helps make connections to the world around them.

It might also be taking them to visit a friend or relative they have lost contact with.

Helen will first focus on the north Wellington area.

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