Access to cancer services in rural and regional areas is contingent on viable transport options. Often patients who are unwell, frail or elderly need options beyond private cars and mainstream public transport. This project aimed to identify current cancer related transport activity by neighborhood houses in sub-regions of north-western Victoria.
The project used a survey tool adapted from a framework used by the Victoria Council of Social Services Community Snapshot project (2008). It explored transport options in 40 sites asking about how the service was established, the transport it provides, frequency of transport, users and costs, how the service is staffed, transport gaps and effectiveness and sustainability of the service. The service information was then consolidated in a broad overview.
The results identified that a range of door to door transport services were provided for people who are unable to drive or access public transport due to temporary illness or disability and are unable to afford taxis. Twenty four applicable services were identified. Many were self-funded or relied on multiple innovative funding sources. Most were staffed by volunteers. The mapping demonstrated pockets of frailty and of significant resilience. For example one very small community with an aging population operating a full time service. Another case study described a person who would not have accessed her radiotherapy appointments without the service.
The neighborhood housing community transport project identified that the cancer related transport provided by this sector is significantly higher than either the health or neighbourhood house sectors in the region realised. This is a resource that may be able to be supported extended to provide more robust transport options and thus access to better care.