Elderly left stranded by cancellation

AN 88-YEAR-old woman says elderly residents have been left stranded, after the community car service was abandoned by the City of Greater Bendigo. 

The volunteer-run car service was cancelled by council recently, due to limited funds.

Maureen Frankum says the car service was vital to many residents' independence and mental health. 

"It's the one thing that keeps me going. I hope council realise the importance of this car because there is nothing for us here without it," she said. 

Mrs Frankum was one of 11 residents who used the car regularly for a fee of $6.50, to get to social events and go shopping. 

Council community well-being director Pauline Gordon said council could no longer fund the program, but were making sure other options were available to residents. 

"This is not funded by the state government as part of its home and community care package and until recently has been inequitable and an additional cost to council," she said. 

"Alternatives include home care shopping with or for a client to the nearest supermarket for groceries."

Other options include half price taxis, the use of family and friends and utilising the planned activity group for social outings.

Mrs Frankum said these options could never fully replace the independence given by the car. 

"We can't just ask people to drive us around and to take this away means a lot to the mental health of the elderly here," she said. 

"When they are stranded and can't get out without other people's help, it's not good. And taxis are too expensive even with the discounted rate."

Mrs Frankum's daughter, who did not wish to be named, said there was significant evidence that elderly people needed to be engaged in social activities. 

"Now these people are stuck in their homes and have a much higher risk of becoming lonely without that mental stimulation, as well as slipping in cognitive function," she said. 

"You just can't put a value on what this brought them."

Ms Gordon said council had been advocating to other levels of government for funding around transport to rural areas.

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