Home care: rethinking mobility in the urban environment

In the field of home care, getting around is an everyday reality that concerns the entire business. From planning visits to reimbursing travel costs, via the management of a fleet of vehicles, every department is involved.

The mobility of staff in the field of home care

Private vehicles or a fleet of vehicles have long been the favored choices. For a few years now, though, the pressure of traffic and growing difficulties in finding a parking place in town have led some companies in the field of residential care to rethink their mobility policy, with support from us. This is the case of IMAD in Geneva, ASANTE SANA in Vevey and the FSL in Lausanne.

The aim is simple: reduce the time spent in vehicles and the stress that results from it, for the benefit of the wellbeing and health of staff. The hours lost moving from place to place far exceed the direct cost of travel costs. Selecting the most suitable mode of transport is therefore crucial.

Analyze the mobility of staff dedicated to providing home care

To objectivize the situation depending on the zones of operation, we conducted a diagnosis of each team’s commutes and work-related journeys. As it turns out, the staff often goes from their own home to the one of the clients without going via the premises of the medico-social center (CMS). Commuting and work-related journeys are therefore directly linked. Understanding their interdependence is essential when it comes to drawing up a coherent mobility policy.

The analysis of the staff’s residences makes it possible to quantify the number of people who have an efficient alternative to using a car to go to work. The map of the clients’ addresses makes it possible to identify the modes of transport by means of which their homes can be reached. Finally, the analysis of visits helps to target the most efficient methods on the basis of the sectors of operations. It can also help to redefine the scope and tasks assigned within the team, in order to reduce the distances covered.  Surveys and interviews based on needs complete this purely spatial and quantitative analysis.

Potential for development of active modes

In Geneva, Vevey and Lausanne, the diagnosis revealed significant potential for the development of active modes in the urban CMS where the density of clients and services makes it possible to get around on foot, by bus or by bike. It showed for instance that half the services performed in a month were no more than 500 meters away or that 75% of them were located in a sector that could be accessed using one of these modes. In the initial stage, the car often came out on top as the most commonly used mode of transport. However, a significant portion of the staff was already travelling on foot or by bus.

There was still room for development of the use of bikes, particularly with electrical assistance which is opening up new prospects. Easier to park in the city than a car, it makes it possible to cover greater distances than going by foot, offers more flexibility than public transport and makes it possible to carry a small amount of equipment. Fleets of bicycles, subsidies to help purchase an electric bike and the ability to go home with a company bike were therefore promoted, depending on the situation. Awareness measures to teach people to ride safely and maintain the equipment always accompanied these efforts.

The car is still present

In some cases, the majority of the workforce lived in the urban agglomeration in which the care was dispensed. The use of an alternative to the car is therefore easier in the context of professional activity. However, for staff with no alternative between their home and workplace, the car serves as a means of transport throughout the day, and regardless of the distances to be covered between two care jobs. The help in adopting a parking solution sometimes made it possible to provide a response to the challenge of mobility that was halfway between the professional and the private spheres.

Finally, the diagnosis also made it possible to identify the contexts in which the use of vehicles in a fleet, car-sharing vehicles or private vehicles was more common. The solutions recommended had to take account of the history and needs of each institution, the specific requirements of the various CMS but also of the local service providers in the market. Finally, each one will have opted for its own recipe, combining one or more of the solutions mentioned. These efforts led to a reduction in fees linked to the use of private vehicles or to optimizing the fleet for the benefit of other modes.

The implementation systematically involved a pilot phase which made it possible to validate the conclusions of the diagnosis but also to support the change in a gradual manner. Experimentation and coaching measures, in particular, made it possible to successfully embark upon a change that is designed for the long-term, with the CMS hierarchy involved.

Testing and experimenting soft mobility

It will be noted in particular that one in four workers in Lausanne has taken part in campaigns to promote walking or cycling, Objectif 10,000 and Bike to Work. And when asked what would be the one thing they would remember from their experience, some participants in the pilot project told us:

“Getting used to riding a bike is a sublime experience.”

“I’m delighted to have done this trial. I wasn’t really convinced at the start.”

“This experience has made me more confident on a bicycle in the traffic, and shown me that I can do it.”

“Freedom and contact with people (at clients’ homes and in the street).”

“The advices and awareness are very important. Motivation to engage in physical efforts. Reduction of stress. Taking part in the project enables us to contribute things, because we’re on the ground.”

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