Since his stroke in 2019, and subsequent rehabilitation, Scott has lived with left-sided weakness and has been unable to use the standard car he drove previously. In 2021, determined to return to driving, he contacted Motability for a better understanding of its leasing scheme and advice on driving an adapted vehicle.
Scott was informed that the first requirement was to update the DVLA regarding his condition. He was additionally signposted to his local Driving Mobility Centre, Herts Ability, who would be able to provide a driving assessment and recommendations for a safe return to driving, with independent and expert advice. Scott says:
“Following my stroke, I was intially at a loss with how to get driving again. Due to the pandemic, I have been able to work from home which suits me well as my mobility is limited. However, I still value my independence and driving is part of that. When speaking to Motability they told me about Driving Mobility and their network of driving assessment centres as I was new to disability – I contacted Herts Ability and they couldn’t have been more helpful.”
Herts Ability, based in Welwyn Garden City, is a charity providing driving and mobility scooter assessments; seating clinics; through to guidance regarding assistive equipment for daily living. They are accredited by Driving Mobility who oversee 21 similar organisations nationally and 70 outreach facilities in England and Wales, ensuring consistent service and standards. Service users are signposted towards the most appropriate adapted vehicles, wheelchairs, scooters, and accessible transport. Clients can self-refer or are directed from the DVLA, Motability, Police and healthcare professionals such as GPs and Occupational Therapists.
An appointment was made for Scott to undertake a driving assessment at Herts Ability’s South Oxhey satellite centre, which would ascertain how he hopefully could regain his licence and safely return to driving. Scott says:
“I was met by Jonathan Hill, Occupational Therapist who was a great guy – really nice and so helpful. He contacted the DVLA on my behalf and sorted everything out which was a relief. During my first assessment at the centre, Jon initially ran through some neurological tests with me, to provide an overview of what I could and couldn’t do, and discussed my medical history thoroughly. Once Jon was satisfied he had a good understanding of my needs, we went for a short drive with Simon Edwards, an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) so they could assess my driving abilities and make some further recommendations. I was a little worried as I hadn’t driven for two years but it seems I wasn’t too bad!”
Due to weakness on his left side, the centre recommended Scott trial a ‘lollipop’ steering aid with secondary controls so he could drive with one hand. “Surprisingly, after some practice, it didn’t take me long to get used to the controls, although initially I did spend some time hooting the horn and turning the indicators on by mistake.”
Following his assessment, Herts Ability recommended Scott took external driving lessons which would allow him to become fully proficient with this new method of driving. They provided details for suitable instructors locally, with adapted vehicles to match Scott’s driving requirements. He was then advised to return to the centre for a follow up assessment.
“After about ten hours of driving tuition, I was able to attend my second assessment in November 2021. This was just as thorough and the staff, Jonathan and Approved Driving Instructor, Mark Thackeray, were just as welcoming. I was asked to complete another eyesight and number plate test. I was then taken for an hour-long driving assessment, and I’m delighted to say that I passed and was advised safe to return to driving using adapted controls. Overall, I’m really pleased. My rehab and physiotherapy are going well. And due to the expert help I’ve received from Herts Ability, I have been able to order a new adapted vehicle that I am confident in using. It’s due any day now and I’m really looking forward to driving independently once again.”