U.S. senior living company tests Lyft ride-hailing service

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Lyft's web-based Concierge tool enables a senior living community to order rides for residents.
Lyft's web-based Concierge tool enables a senior living community to order rides for residents.

Bend, OR-based Sunshine Retirement Living has partnered with Lyft to test the ride-hailing service in nine of its 19 communities.

“We are seeing many of our residents becoming more and more tech-savvy, searching the internet for information at their fingertips or using social media as a communication tool,” said Mark Peper, chief operating officer of Sunshine Retirement Living. “Because of this, using a ridesharing service like Lyft is becoming less foreign to them, and they now see it as a way to enhance the quality of their lives on so many levels, including promoting family, social and community engagement to sustain and grow a positive and healthy mental outlook.”

The company began testing the program as a supplement to other transportation options two weeks ago at Quail Lodge, Antioch, CA; Summerfield Estates, Tigard, OR; Deer Park, Novato, CA; Creekside Oaks, Folsom, CA; Villa Serena, Santa Clara, CA; Waterford Terrace, La Mesa, CA; The Landing at Behrman Place, New Orleans; Dunwoody Pines, Dunwoody, GA; and Hammond Glen, Sandy Springs, GA. Those communities are home to approximately 1,350 residents, Dave Myslinski, Sunshine's director of marketing, told McKnight's Senior Living.

“Persons 65 years or older represent about one in every seven Americans,” said Gyre Renwick, head of healthcare enterprise partnerships at Lyft. “Far too often, this population can live in isolation and lack mobility and independence due to little or no transportation options. Our partnership with Sunshine Retirement is aimed at helping to improve the overall quality of care and lifestyle for their residents.”

Residents don't need to have a Lyft account or a smartphone to use the service, Renwick told McKnight's Senior Living. They order rides via a community concierge, who uses a dedicated online dashboard to facilitate requests. Charges for the rides appear on residents' monthly bills.

Margie Atkins, 79, a Quail Lodge resident, said she expects that the new arrangement will save her money getting to and from the hospital and medical appointments for herself and veterinary appointments for her cat.

“Using Lyft will likely save me hundreds of dollars each year, and the added independence of being able to get around town when I want or need to has made all the difference in how I plan my days,” she said.

The pilot will last indefinitely, with expansion possible in areas where the ride-hailing service is available, Myslinski said. Sunshine also will be looking at other uses for Lyft, such as employee transportation and the transporting of groups of residents for activities, he added.

Sunshine's 19 communities are home to approximately 3,000 residents. In addition to California, Georgia, Louisiana and Oregon, the four states where the pilot program has launched, the company also manages senior living communities in Arkansas, Florida and Texas.

Lyft also recently announced a pilot program with Great Call whereby older adults who use Jitterbug flip phones in select markets can arrange for transportation through a personal operator reached by pressing “0” on the phone.

Rail-hailing service Uber also is testing a service, UberCentral, in a Revera senior living community in Toronto. Revera is the only senior housing or residential long-term care provider in North America to work directly with Uber to test the platform, although Clairmont Crest, an affordable independent and assisted living community in Georgia, is using the service through another nonprofit organization. UberCentral became available to all U.S. and Canadian businesses at the end of July.

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