Community Rideshare works for YOUNG & OLD

Did you know that there are around 1065 people in The Hills who deal with isolation, uncertainty and hopelessness every day of their lives?

Imagine how you would feel if one of them was your grandparent!

Community transportation services don’t take seniors across town, or anywhere on weekends or at night.

Seniors are required to give plenty of notice to book a trip, which means they often miss out on the spontaneity that life demands, and the simplest flexibility and freedom that so many of us take for granted.

In 2008, John McQuarrie, a long-time Sydney Hills resident, saw the plight of local seniors as he volunteered to drive them to their medical appointments, grocery shopping and cemetery visits, when no one else would.

“Countless seniors find it impossible to visit old friends, places and activities they did before they were deprived of their access to a car. And yet society urges them to “age in place” – a sentiment that they sadly resign to. It doesn’t have to be that way!” – John McQuarrie

You can make sure that no more seniors have to suffer Shut-In Syndrome! To find out how you can help stamp it out easily and with as little as 5 minutes of your time, simply subscribe and we’ll email you with some obligation-free, quick and easy information.

Frequently asked questions

General Interest

What is Hills CarPal?

Hills CarPal is a transportation service for Sydney Hills Seniors who otherwise face becoming Shut-ins in their own homes. Hills CarPal volunteer drivers offer to detour to pick up a Senior and drop them off along the route of a trip the driver was taking anyway. Seniors can take a ride with a Hills CarPal driver anywhere in the Sydney metropolitan area.

Why was Hills CarPal set up?

Hills CarPal aims to help Seniors overcome the difficulty they have getting around Sydney when they can no longer drive themselves. Hills CarPal helps them to overcome their mobility issues as they try to maintain a sense of social inclusion in their later years. For example: • Across town taxi fares are expensive and such trips are not generally serviced by Community Transport
• Attending an evening event using public transport is viewed as undesirable because of the walk home from the bus
• Existing Community Transport is not designed to react to weekend or short-notice requests
• The NRMA has identified that change is needed in its Discussion Paper on Transport for Ageing Australians Hills CarPal believes that older Australians can lead a richer life in the community than out of it!

How will Hills CarPal help Senior Citizens?

Wanting to keep in touch is not only for the young. Hills CarPal is there for Seniors who do not drive and are finding it difficult to use public transport to get around. They may be uncertain of negotiating steps, or worried about being bitten by the dog in their street as they walk home. Or they may not be able to walk 200metres to the bus stop. Also, the lack of a trusted, low cost, flexible and convenient transportation option for the Senior Citizens is the chief reason why many elderly drivers are loathe to hand in their driver’s licence as they age. With Hills CarPal, many Seniors will put their driving days behind them without having to become a recluse, cut off from their community.

Driving for CarPal

I don’t always have time to detour. Does Hills CarPal want volunteers like me?

You are exactly the sort of driver we are looking for. Someone who can help provide a ride occasionally but cannot commit to a regular time or journey. We will provide you with information on Facebook “Events” showing the Seniors who want to go somewhere in Sydney and need a ride to get there. The information will include their pickup and drop off locations and a preferred pickup time. After that it’s just a matter of seeing if their trip request matches with your planned trip … and you commit ONLY when you have the time to detour! So you make the choice of when you can help. There is no obligation on when or how often you will be able to volunteer a ride.

I will have someone with me in the car. Is that a problem?

No, that’s fine. Hills CarPal is a detour service. So you conduct your day as you would have done if you weren’t volunteering with Hills CarPal. Just be aware that our Volunteer Accident Insurance policy only covers the volunteer driver NOT any passengers you may have with you. And one other point worth noting is to carefully read the details in Ride Requests to check if the Client is requesting to travel with a companion e.g. a carer, friend or family member. If this is the case, you may need to consider whether your available seating or boot space will allow you to provide the Ride. The HillsCarPal Team

How does Hills CarPal work?

You will regularly receive the details of trips (or rides) that clients request via Facebook “Events”. To accept a “booking”, you “join” the “event”. When the trip-day arrives you detour from your planned trip and pick up the client at the address given in the “event” and then drop him or her at the nominated destination. You have no obligation to be available for the return journey unless you also “join(ed)” that “event” as a separate offer that you made. After completing each ride, you complete a “PollDaddy” response on our “Ride Feedback” Facebook page to give us some feedback on the Ride including if you used the MPS permit. This response doubles as a claim for reimbursement of additional vehicle operating costs. If you claim reimbursement you will receive a monthly payment into your PayPal account (up to $5.00 for each trip) for any trips you took that month. It’s as simple as that!

What’s the process to volunteer?

Like all volunteer positions, there is a fair bit of admin to get through before you make you first offer of a ride to a deserving Sydney Hills Senior. And we understand that you will need time to respond as the process goes along and to fit it in with the other things in your life. We suggest that you think in terms of 5 or 6 weeks (elapsed time) for the admin component of becoming a volunteer with us. We will need to meet with you face to face once during the process. We’ll come to you at a time a location that suits you OR you can come to our office at Baulkham Hills if you wish. At the end of the process, you sign up to our Hills CarPal Volunteer Driver Agreement and Code of Behaviour and we’ll explain our volunteers’ insurance cover, provide you with a Hills CarPal ID and permission you for the clients’ secret groups on Facebook. Then get used to our Shut-in Seniors’ smiles when you offer rides to clients whose travel needs around Sydney fit with your own busy life and schedule.

Can any driver join up?

Any driver who fits the following profile can become a volunteer driver with Hills CarPal:

  • NSW C Class driving licence or better
  • Car or SUV registered with Greenslip insurance cover
  • Has access to the internet via a PC or smartphone
  • Makes regular trips into or around the Sydney Hills region

What would I do if the client I was transporting was became ill?

First things first: HillsCarPal will be telling Seniors who are feeling ill to cancel any planned Hills CarPal trips; Hills CarPal will NOT be taking bookings from sick and injured persons for trips to hospital; What to do, if it happens enroute: If a client becomes ill during a trip, pull over safely and render what assistance you can; If you deem a client’s illness enroute to be a matter of extreme urgency, call an ambulance by dialling 000 and wait where you are for it to arrive; In the aftermath: As soon as it is possible and practicable to do so, call Hills CarPal on 0418 229 616 to advise what happened and where things stand. We will arrange alternative transport if the Client wishes to abort the Ride and return home so that you can continue on your own journey. We will provide you with feedback on the Client’s condition when we have this information. If you incur any additional expenses in attending to the situation, Hills CarPal will reimburs your claim for reasonable expenses arising from the incident.

What documentation do Hills CarPal Drivers sign up to?

Click here for Hills CarPal’s Volunteer Driver agreement.

Taking a ride with CarPal

Can you please provide an overall description of the Hills CarPal service?

Click here for an aggregated service description of the HillsCarPal Seniors Transportation Service.

How does Hills CarPal work?

You, or someone you know, will enter the details of the trip you want to take into Facebook “Events”. If a volunteer driver accepts your request, he or she will pick you up (in their car) and drop you at your destination. You will receive a monthly invoice from Hills CarPal to pay $8.50 ($17.00 for a return journey) for each Ride you have taken that month. And Phone Clients pay an annual fee of $40 on their 1st Ride each calendar year. It’s as simple as that!

How do I subscribe to Hills CarPal for my parent/s, grandparent/s?

So you have told your parent or grandparent (or any other Senior) about Hills CarPal and how it can help Sydney Hills Seniors to get out around Sydney. Now you want help him/her by taking the hassle out of joining up on their behalf. After you get their agreement to give it a go, follow the steps below:

  1. To start off just subscribe at our home page in your own name and email address
  2. Respond to the message you receive – as though you were a potential client – by clicking the link to become a Hills CarPal client
  3. Then provide the Travel Patterns information we request (online) for them. You will also need to tell us the name of the passenger.You may use the same email address that you used to subscribe or one used by them. Our response will be directed to the email address you provide on the Client Travel Patterns online form
  4. If we think we can match the travel patterns you tell us about with the routes usually driven by one or more of our volunteer drivers, we will send you an email asking you (or them if their email address was given in #3 above) to complete a Client Application online. You will need to obtain specific information from them to be able to do this and don’t forget to complete the last three (3) items on the application giving your own details if you are making the application on behalf of them.
  5. That’s pretty much it. After that we contact you to talk through using a Facebook account their name to book the rides that he/she will be taking and finally
  6. Call us on 02 9639 8620 if you need any further explanation. We are there from 9.30am – 3.00pm, Mon to Fri.
You parent/grandparent can now get to anywhere in Sydney at any time and all for just $7.50 a ride. Their busy social calendar may prevent them from seeing you as often after that. However, you will still receive the odd phone call (or SMS) from them time to time to ask for your help with requesting their rides, unless they become a Facebook addict in their own right!

Can a friend or carer come with me on my Ride?

Yes, but here are some things to consider:

  1. Some drivers may not be comfortable taking more than one passenger
  2. On occasion, drivers may have other passengers (including children in safety seats) and, therefore there may not be enough seating for more than one person
  3. Only one pickup and drop-off location will be accepted for your Ride
  4. Boot space may be unavailable for more than one walking frame or set of shopping bags
  5. You will be held responsible for your companions’ conduct during the Ride.
“OK”, I hear you say. “How do I see if I can arrange it?” The answer is you just provide some more details when you make your initial Ride Request(s) on Facebook. We also suggest that you issue your Ride Request(s) as early as possible. The extra details needed are:
  1. The number of extra passengers
  2. Their names and their relationship to you e.g. friend, carer, son, daughter etcan
  3. Anything other than a handbag they will have with them that might need boot space
There is only one invoice (for $7.50 OR $15.00 for a return Ride) issued for the Ride; the same as if you were travelling alone. The key is to let drivers know when you make the initial Ride Request(s). That way there are no surprises for you or for the

What if I am feeling unwell on the day?

It is better that you worry firstly about yourself and your health. Let Hills CarPal take care of any issues for us that may arise if you are suddenly unwell. There is no charge for Rides that are cancelled because of illness. We are not an substitute for the ambulance service and do NOT offer a service of taking sick or injured people to hospital. If you need an ambulance please call for one immediately on 000. If you are able, call the driver or Hills CarPal (0418 229 616) to cancel the Ride. We can always take you where you want to go another day when you are feeling better.

I’m a Senior who doesn’t have a Pension Card. Can I ride?

The answer is Yes! It just takes a bit of setting up in either of the two (2) ways described below: Sponsor: The easiest way is if you know someone who is “online” and who is willing to book your Rides for you, asking them to be your Sponsor They will be a trustworthy friend or family member who has their own email address. When you need a Ride, you call them and they will “relay” your Ride Requests online to Hills CarPal volunteer drivers. They will then call you back to advise the names and mobile phone numbers of the drivers who will drive you. They will also be responsible for making payment for your Rides and you may need to provide them with your credit card details. There is no extra cost to use Hills CarPal if you arrange your own Sponsor. Online Facilitator: If you don’t know anyone to ask to be your Sponsor, we’ll try to find you one. If we are successful in finding a volunteer to help book your Rides, we will run a Police Check on him/her and put them in touch with you. Seniors who use our service in this way are called Phone Clients. When you need a Ride, you call them and they will “relay” your Ride Requests online to Hills CarPal volunteer drivers. He/she will then call you back to advise the names and mobile phone numbers of the drivers who will drive you. You will be responsible to call us to arrange Credit Card payment for Rides taken each month. There is a Phone Support Contribution of $30 yearly. if you want to use our Seniors transportation service in this manner.

What is a Phone Client?

A Phone Client is a Senior who isn’t “online” but wishes to use the Hills CarPal Seniors Transportation service and who doesn’t have an “online” friend or family member to sponsor them. When possible, Phone Clients are assigned to a volunteer Online Facilitator who makes Ride Requests on their behalf. Phone Clients are given the phone contact details of their assigned Online Facilitator to contact when they wish to make a Ride Request with Hills CarPal. After each Ride, Phone Clients call their Online Facilitator to provide Ride Feedback. Phone Clients also call HillsCarPal directly when paying Hills CarPal invoices over the phone by credit card.

Can any Senior join?

To join Hills CarPal you will need to be a Sydney Hills Senior who holds or receives one of the following:

  • Current Pensioner Concession Card (PCC), issued by Centrelink or Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA)
  • DVA Gold Card endorsed TPI (Totally & Permanently Incapacitated)
  • DVA Gold Card endorsed EDA (Extreme Disablement Adjustment)
  • Letter or statement/determination from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs stating that the person receives a disability pension of 70% or higher, or an Intermediate or Extreme Disablement Adjustment Pension, or who has been assessed under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 at 50 or more impairment points
  • DVA Gold Card endorsed ‘War Widow’
  • DVA Gold Card endorsed ‘War Widower’ OR
  • Centrelink Health Care Card

What else is there to understand?

In addition to meeting the eligibility requirements for Hills CarPal membership, Hills CarPal clients will also:

  • Be capable of walking short distances with or without a walking aid
  • Have a computer/tablet with internet access
  • Have a friend or family member or Facilitator appointed by CarPal (for Phone Clients), who has a computer/tablet with internet access, willing to book Rides on their behalf and able to make payments for Rides they take by credit card or PayPal.
Each Ride Request must be made on Facebook “Events” so that that volunteer drivers are covered by our Volunteer Accident Insurance policy. Any Rides that follow a repetitive pattern will need to be entered into Facebook ‘Events” using its Repeat or Copy functions so that a Hills CarPal response can be forthcoming.

How do I know it is safe?

Hills CarPal will check that all its volunteer drivers have motor vehicles that are registered with Greenslip insurance cover and that their driver’s licence is current. We will not use drivers who are on provisional licences. We will issue all drivers and clients with a photo ID and will only use secret Facebook groups to book trips. We will also carry out a Police Check on volunteers before permitting them to drive you.

How much notice do I need to give?

The more notice you are able to give, the better your chances of matching the travel patterns of one of the Hill sCarPal drivers. Eventually, Hills CarPal expects to be able to offer as little as a two (2) hour advance notice for trips to many areas around Sydney.

Is it $8.50 each way?

Yes. Generally each trip will be provided by a different driver who will detour from their planned trip to pick you up. So a return trip will cost $17.00 for all Rides after the 1st Ride each calendar year.

What if my return-trip driver does not turn up?

A phone call to Hills CarPal will ensure that you will not be left stranded. Alternative transport will be arranged by Hills CarPal to get you home safely with as little delay as possible.

Online Facilitators

What does an Online Facilitator do?

Introduction: For the context of this question check: I’m a Senior who doesn’t have a PC. Can I ride? The Answer: It’s really very simple, although you do need to be good with detail. The basics of what is involved are:

  1. Take a call from the Senior
  2. Get their Ride details; both outgoing & return
  3. Put these details into Facebook “Events”
  4. Monitor Facebook replies from HillsCarPal drivers
  5. Call the Senior back with the results, supplying them with driver & pickup details
  6. Take a call from the Senior with feedback of the Ride(s) taken
  7. Enter the Ride (s) feedback into Facebook’s PollDaddy App
So, it is something that can be done from anywhere using a computer, tablet and/or smart[hone. Whilst it will be simple for the Online Facilitator, it will mean a lot in the lives of Shut-in Seniors.

How to support CarPal

Financial Inclusion

Community Transport