Meet The locals: Jodie McLaughlin-Phillips From Sunshine Coast Wheelchair Transfers

November 21, 2023

Caloundra locals Jodie and Andrew McLaughlin-Phillips have hit the ground running as the new owners of Sunshine Coast Wheelchair Transfers.

We recently caught up with Jodie to find out about their first month on the road, the people they’ve met and the rewards of providing a vital transport service for those with mobility issues.

Great to chat with you, Jodie. You’ve been a Caloundra local for a while. Tell us how you came to be here?

That’s right. We’ve been here for about 15 years now, living in Little Mountain.

We were in Gunnedah (in north-eastern NSW) for a while, but our eldest son had asthma, and our doctor suggested a warmer climate might help, so we packed up and moved here, and we haven’t looked back. He’s now in Brisbane studying architecture, and our youngest is a professional rugby player, who debuted for the Queensland Reds and is hoping to play Super Rugby next year.

Wow! Obviously, well worth the move then. Apart from the obvious health benefits, tell me what you love about the area?

Everything! The beaches. The people. When we moved here, it just felt like a big country town by the ocean, and that’s exactly what I like about it. The area’s grown a lot since we moved here, but I still love it. I also love that our adult kids want to come home to us from Brisbane on the weekends.

And you’ve just made another big change, buying the Sunshine Coast Wheelchair Transfers business. What prompted this new venture?

Andrew and I have done a lot of different things over the years. We’ve had pubs, a fencing business and a café. Before we bought this business, Andrew was away working in the mines. We were ready to sink our teeth into something new, and the chance came up to buy this business.

It’s an opportunity for us to give back to our community. There’s a huge need for this kind of service on the Sunshine Coast. There aren’t many transport options for people in a wheelchair or with mobility issues, so it’s nice to be there for them. And because our kids aren’t at home anymore, we can be flexible and available to support people seven days a week.

I know your customers value that round-the-clock service. Tell me what you enjoy most about the work?

It’s the people you come into contact with each day. They’re so authentic. If you do something good for them, they let you know. And if you tell a joke and it’s not funny, they just don’t laugh.

I was in the van with a client the other day, and her carer asked her what she wanted for Christmas, and she said: “I don’t need anything.” I just thought, wouldn’t it be great if we were all like that?

Plus, I love chatting, and I’ve got a bit of a captive audience in the van!

I’m sure you’ve learned a lot since taking on the business.

Heaps! It’s been an eye-opener and a real leveller. We’ve learned a lot about the challenges faced by people with mobility issues. There are so many services out there but the problem is getting access to them.

If someone has a specialist appointment and their transport doesn’t show up, it can be another three-month wait to get in again. It can be really stressful, not just for the clients but the carers as well. And they go through this all the time.

The carers are really appreciative that we’re there. So much of the burden falls on them to make other arrangements if a driver is late or the transport doesn’t show up, so a seven-day service like ours takes a lot of pressure off them.

Thanks for the chat, Jodie, and good luck with the business – you provide a really valuable service for our community, so thank you!

You can find out more about Sunshine Coast Wheelchair Transfers and making a booking online or call them on 0493 849 163.

Photo credit: Sunshine Coast Wheelchair Transfers Facebook page

Caloundra City Realty

Article by Caloundra City Realty

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