Expanding Services For RPB Seniors Is A Worthwhile Effort

Roughly five years after the creation of the senior-focused nonprofit organization Wellington Cares, Royal Palm Beach is looking to follow in its footsteps.

Wellington Cares is a volunteer organization that aims to help Wellington seniors 65 and older remain in their homes by providing essential services, such as picking up groceries or prescriptions, taking them to doctors’ offices, assisting with bills, simply talking to participants and more.

Royal Palm Beach’s initial push is focused on ways of providing better transportation options to its older residents, for whom the county’s Palm Tran system does not provide optimal opportunities.

Currently, there is one Palm Tran bus line that serves Royal Palm Beach — one that essentially runs west on Southern Blvd. from State Road 7 to Royal Palm Beach Blvd., then running north to Okeechobee Blvd., then east to State Road 7, then south back to Southern Blvd. That’s a bit simplistic, we admit, but what it really speaks to is the lack of options for residents without a personal vehicle available — and particularly those who no longer feel safe behind the wheel.

Royal Palm Beach village officials were presented three options at a recent meeting: a fixed-route trolley system, a subsidized taxi program called STAR (Senior Transportation and Rides) and a door-through-door escorted rides program.

A STAR system, offering a fixed number of taxi rides monthly to qualifying seniors, is currently available through the Village of Wellington. Additionally, Wellington Cares offers a volunteer-based door-through-door escorted rides program. If the village opts to go that route, Wellington Cares has offered to help in setting one up.

Should Royal Palm Beach opt to follow Wellington Cares’ lead, it is estimated around 25 to 30 volunteers would be needed for the transit service. Then again, Wellington Cares is much more than just a transportation option. That is just one part of a nonprofit aimed at creating a naturally occurring retirement community, or NORC, where other residents help those who can no longer fully take care of themselves, allowing senior citizens to stay in their homes longer.

Royal Palm Beach already offers a wide array of social options for its seniors, including a popular meal program. We have seen the great work that Wellington Cares has done in its community and certainly support such an operation being started in Royal Palm Beach. We’ve been impressed with how Wellington Cares has operated since its creation, and believe such a service would open up numerous new opportunities for Royal Palm Beach residents. Obviously, more efficient transportation options would be part of the deal. But since it started operations, Wellington Cares has expanded its scope. Social outings, basic home maintenance and help attending doctor visits are some of the many free services Wellington Cares offers seniors in the Wellington community, not to mention its newly created food pantry.

We salute Royal Palm Beach for making this push into expanding services for senior citizens. Too often, this is a topic that comes up at election time and then disappears. We think any opportunity to assist area seniors is a good thing and a very worthwhile effort.