Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Scheduling: Oh, What a Tangled Web We Weave!

Each week, seniors contentedly head off for medical appointments throughout King County, with friendly volunteers amiably facilitating their journeys.  As simplistic and straightforward as these arrangements may seem, it is important to note that they do not come about haphazardly; rather, they are the direct result of the careful attention to detail, analytical problem solving, and skillful coordination of our Transportation Coordinators.  These essential members of our team are so adept at the driver/client matching process that they make it look easy… But don’t let them fool you!  The behind-the-scenes work that makes each ride possible is complicated, and it can appear daunting to those of us on the outside.  Eager minds have most assuredly pondered: “How does it all come together?”, and, therefore, I’d like to dedicate this post to the complexities of ride coordination.

The "puzzle" starts to come together with detailed notes about
driver availabilities in the upcoming week.
Unfortunately, there are no clear-cut formulas, systems, or programs for determining who will drive whom as the weekly ride requests accumulate.  Our Transportation Coordinators rely on their brainpower and critical thinking skills to take many factors into account as they pair clients with drivers, craftily putting together the “jigsaw puzzle” of ride assignments.   They must look at the locations of the clients, volunteers, and appointments; honor the preferences, availabilities, and abilities of our volunteers; recognize the limitations of our clients; prioritize rides for clients who need our services the most; and ensure that as many people as possible can receive our services.  
Rides are highlighted once driving assignments are confirmed.

As one might imagine, this is a multi-step process.  Drivers are contacted; notes are taken; schedules (sorted by geographic area) are printed and “penciled in” with tentative driver assignments; and all matches are confirmed by the end of the week. As ride requests come in after the Wednesday deadline, the Coordinators do their best to assist additional clients, revisiting their original charts and schedules.  Throughout it all, they calmly overcome any obstacles that get in their way (e.g.: canceled or changed appointments, reliable volunteers becoming sick or going on vacation, multiple appointments scheduled for the same day/time, etc.) -- efficiently working with all of the variables.  This course of action is repeated week after week.

The steadfast work of the Transportation Coordinators is commendable, and their results are admirable.  However, in order to make their jobs easier, we’d all love additional volunteers to fill the gaps of unmet transportation needs.  The equation is simple: current volunteers + more volunteers = more options for our hard-working schedulers and less clients turned away from the program.  If you have the “drive” to provide meaningful service and enjoy driving, this is the volunteer job for you!  Please contact Hilary at or (206)748-7588 for more information.  You may be the missing piece of our giant, intricate “puzzle!”


About Me

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“Behind the Wheel” offers stories, reflections, news and updates about Sound Generations’ (formerly Senior Services') Transportation Program. Throughout King County, our inspiring volunteers provide needed mobility to local seniors, supporting them in their efforts to remain independent, healthy, and happy. Please drop by to read more about the unique experiences of our volunteers, clients and staff!
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