Part of the Driving Mobility national network of driving assessment centres, East Anglian DriveAbility (EAD) has given Michael Burton from Chelmsford the all clear to continue driving with early stage dementia.
Driving Mobility oversees twenty independent organisations which offer professional support and driving assessments to people who need to gain, or retain, the ability to drive following a diagnosis involving impairment or disability. EAD is part of this network with centres in Thetford and Colchester. In addition to driving assessments, its Occupational Therapists and Driving Advisors provide several additional services including guidance regarding specialist paediatric car seats and mobility scooters.
Following his diagnosis Michael was referred by the DVLA to East Anglian DriveAbility for a comprehensive fitness-to-drive assessment. Michael’s wife, Sharon, comments: “Being diagnosed with dementia doesn’t mean that Michael has to stop driving immediately, however the DVLA do require confirmation that my husband is safe to continue. We didn’t have to wait long for an assessment date at the Colchester centre.”
Michael attended EAD in November 2018 where he was professionally assessed by an Occupational Therapist and an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI). They explained the process and collected detailed information regarding his medical background and driving experience. Michael then undertook a series of cognitive and perceptual tests which assessed how his brain interprets what he sees around him and the way this information is used for planning. Sharon expands: “We were very impressed with the thoroughness of the assessment and the supportive attitude of the EAD team. Michael was shown road signs to identify and asked the speed limits for various types of roads. His eyesight was checked to see if he could read number plates at the legally required distance and his peripheral vision was tested. We were pleased that he passed the required target levels within this part of the assessment.”
For the second part Michael was accompanied by an ADI and Occupational Therapist during a road test in a dual-controlled vehicle. Michael’s steering, braking and reactions were monitored as well as his speed and decision-making. On return to the centre the specialist staff presented their finding to Michael and Sharon. Sharon explains: “Everything was absolutely fine, which was a relief to both of us. The staff were very informative. They explained that Michael’s awareness and anticipation were at a good level, as were his road positioning and understanding of width and distance.”
Following Michael’s assessment, EAD have provided the DVLA with a detailed written report and requested that Michael attends regular follow-up assessments. Whilst the Burtons understand a time will come when Michael will need to stop driving, they feel reassured that EAD will be monitoring the situation closely and offering professional support.
Sharon concludes: “EAD have really been very helpful and friendly – we couldn’t fault the assessment process. The staff were meticulous with their questions whilst making Michael feel at ease from the beginning. It was obvious that they understood our needs and situation. I have already recommended EAD’s services to new friends we have made at a local Alzheimer’s group. Michael is still in the early stages of dementia but moving forwards, we are happy that EAD will continue to assess his cognitive and driving abilities. It lessens the worry for both of us by knowing we are in good hands.”