In this blog post we talk to entrepreneur Stephen Cluskey the founder of GoAccessible365.com which has just launched. Stephen has partnered with Bluebird Care on a range of initiatives and we are delighted to support his latest venture which pushes the boundaries of social change.
What is goaccessible365.com?
Goaccessible365.com is a web and mobile-based search facility to quickly and easily source all forms of wheelchair accessible travel including transport, hotels and tourist attractions. We are looking to raise standards, promote independence and ‘Push Social Change’.
Who is it aimed at?
Anyone who needs accessible transport and travel.
This includes wheelchair users, their families, friends and wider social circle as well as care homes, nursing homes, hospitals and related organisations.
What was your motivation for setting up the website?
The website began initially due to a bad personal experience with trying to get a wheelchair accessible taxi but the idea has grown enormously since.
We work on both the business as well as the advocacy side of things. Our advocacy goals aim to put substantially more wheelchair accessible taxis on Irish roads as taxis are the only real public door to door transport system we have and a necessity for equal access. Since tackling this issue, we have had some notable successes in having an impact but the work has only just begun.
Goaccessible365.com is the evolution of Wheelchairtaxi.ie and we have expanded our services into a more complete wheelchair travel site covering hotels and tourist attractions as well as transport. We want to see a world which is accessible to everyone, regardless of your situation.
How receptive are transport providers and Government and other stakeholders to you big vision?
We have a very good working relationship with our transport providers. They are delighted as they get extra work from the site and it’s free for them to sign up. Users love our service as it gives them access to a whole host of different travel options providing choice and variety which they never had before. Users can leave feedback on a driver or attraction and see feedback from others for peace of mind. Venues and tourist attractions love our service as it provides them with a solution for disabled customers to get to their venue as well providing their customers with somewhere to stay that is wheelchair accessible.
The government have been very accommodating to our ideas and implemented 6 key regulation changes in the latest taxi regulation bill because of our input. We helped to introduce the million euro grant scheme for upgrading to a wheelchair accessible taxi last year and that had a really good impact on numbers. The National Transport Authority are running the scheme again this year and we would hope to see even more wheelchair taxis on Irish roads because of it. We have wheelchair taxis at the forefront of the agenda for most monthly taxi meetings with the government and will continue to do so.
Why did you choose Bluebird Care as a corporate partner on this project?
Bluebird Care have supported us from the beginning and been an invaluable asset in helping us to ‘Push Social Change’. We were impressed with their knowledge and understanding about accessible transport and travel issues for disabled people. Their ethos is about supporting inclusion which fits in perfectly with our goals and ambitions so we are very fortunate to have them as a corporate partner.
Who else can get involved in the website and how?
There are lots of opportunities to get involved in the site at various levels and the more help we have, the more we can ‘Push Social Change’.
We have one opening left for a premium partner so if you are a business looking to showcase your wares then drop us a line. We work with many charities also and have official partnerships available for disability related charities.
Feedback is always important and we are continuously looking for innovative ways to improve our service. If you have any suggestions on how we could do this then please get in touch.
Our blog features quite heavily on the site covering all aspects of disability related topics which get extensive coverage through our social media channels. We are constantly looking for interesting articles from a personal perspective so if you have something you would like covered or would be interested in being a guest writer then let us know.
How can we all help promote the site?
Firstly, tell everyone!
Then, if you know a driver with wheelchair transport or a really great (fully accessible) attraction let them know about our service and encourage them to sign up. Inform your local nursing home, hospital or related organisation that our service exists as it can help so many people who already feel isolated in their communities.
Interact with us through social media. Our users are the lifeblood of this organisation so let’s get communicating. The more we discuss disability issues, the more normalised and part of an integrated society these issues will become. Leave comments on our page, send us private messages, tweet us or use any number of different ways to interact but do get in touch!
Any other comments?
We are involved with a number of different exciting projects over the coming months which we believe can have a big impact in time in the world of accessible travel (although we can’t give away too much at the moment) but keep an eye out.
Lack of driver training on how to properly restrain a wheelchair has been a serious issue in Ireland for a long time and as part of the taxi grant system, we helped make this mandatory. We have also just completed 2 training videos showing drivers how to properly tie down a wheelchair in a taxi or home vehicle so check them out on Youtube and share.
Delighted to announce we have made the final 12 in the Social Entrepreneurs of Ireland competition so fingers crossed for the next month or 2 as we try to progress further!
We are so passionate about disability and travel issues and want to have as big an impact as possible not just in Ireland but globally so please keep spreading the word about Goaccessible365.com.
Nicola O’Sullivan works with Bluebird Care Carlow/Kilkenny/Waterford and tells her #myiCareStory below.
#MyiCareStory by Nicola O’Sullivan
My name is Nicola and I am 23 years old. I have been working with Bluebird Care for the past two years. I honestly could not ask for a better job.
I got into caring from looking after my grandmother at a young age of 16. I moved in with her and my uncle. My grandmother was diagnosed with dementia in 2007 and that was when I realised that this was the job for me. It means a lot to me to keep somebody in their home. It is now 7 years that my nanny is having care from home. From doing this as an every day thing, I went and completed the healthcare Fetac level 5 course. Soon afterwards, Bluebird Care took me on to work as part of their team.
Bluebird Care has given me a big opportunity to work with not just the elderly but with adults and children with intellectual disabilities. One man I care for comes to mind and brings a smile to my face anytime I think of him. This man has a rare condition called Huntington’s disease. He would really make anybody appreciate life. I have learned so much by caring for him and I am so grateful to be given this opportunity to be part of his life and share my experiences with him.
Looking back over those two years, I believe I have built my confidence in my work and have gained a lot of experience. Bluebird Care opens so many doors in giving you the chance of working out in the community in peoples homes and in community centres.
I have met a variety of people throughout my two years here. I treat them as I would treat my Grandmother. These people bring out a lot in me and make me so happy to go to work and I really enjoy what I do for a living.
They are not just customers to me they are now my friends. I have found a job that I want to do for the rest of my life. It is so rewarding and as I am so young starting off, I cannot wait to see what the future holds.
John Coyne from Kilkenny works with Bluebird Care Carlow/Kilkenny/Waterford and has tells us his #myiCareStory below.
#myiCareStory by John Coyne
I became a Healthcare Assistant in 2011 and this has been the best career move I ever made. The reason I started this career is because I always wanted to make a difference to people who needed care, who just wanted a hand, or just company to allow them to stay as independent for as long as possible.
My favourite people to look after are older people as they have so many amazing stories to tell and some classic sayings, which cannot be put to print but would have me doubled over with laughter.
The most rewarding part of the job is when an older person asks, “will you be here again tomorrow?” When they are reassured that you will be back, you can see their faces light up and a smile follows.
I have met a few characters on my caring journey that have made an impact on my life. Older people teach you how to live and enjoy life, as this is what is facing all of us in the years to come.
There is lots of training available to help the Bluebird Care carer do their job to the best of their ability.
When you work with a good team it makes the job easier as the carer knows that there are experienced people there to give you back-up, when it is needed.
“Bring Care Home”
“I would like to thank the Bluebird Care team for the time and experience that was invested in me. I will treasure many memories I have of working with the clients and will always hold them dear to me” – Kelly
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