Claire with Cerebral Palsy achieves driving independence dream thanks to North West Driving Assessment Service
Claire Holtaway achieves her goal to drive independently with Merseyside’s North West Driving Assessment Service.
Claire Holtaway, 26 from Birkenhead, has achieved her goal to drive independently with Cerebral Palsy through the guidance and support of Merseyside’s North West Driving Assessment Service.
Accredited by the national charity Driving Mobility, North West Driving Assessment Service (NWDAS) is part of the Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust based in St Helens, Merseyside. Its specialist team of Occupational Therapists and Approved Driving Instructors provide professional support and driving assessments to people who need to gain, or retain, the ability to drive following a diagnosis involving impairment or disability. They have recently introduced car seat and harness assessment clinics for disabled children and mobility scooter assessments to their range of services.
Claire, now age 26, developed an interest in learning to drive at the age of 19. Following discussions with several friends with disabilities, she was encouraged to investigate how and where she could turn her dream into a reality. Claire comments: “My parents came across NWDAS through a friend whose daughter attended assessments there whilst learning to drive. I decided to contact them for advice and was invited to an initial meeting with an OT. We discussed my medical history and my physical and visual abilities so the Centre could plan effectively with me how to reach my goal.”
In August 2012, Claire began driving assessments at NWDAS which continued for four years. As well as learning to drive a car, it was important Claire found the most comfortable and suitable vehicle adaptations to ensure safe driving. During this time, the Centre trialled a variety of specialist driving aids as well as cushions and backrests until the best accessible options were identified.
Claire continues: “It was a slow process – which was exactly what I needed to build my confidence and to provide me with enough road practice. My assessor, Dave, was incredibly patient throughout. He tried many different mobility aids in a bid to simplify the driving process for me. Initially, we tried a Lodgesons Lollipop infa-red hand control on the steering wheel to operate the indicators, horn, window wipers etc. but I found this quite difficult to use. So, for a while, I drove an automatic car with dual controls whilst Dave controlled the indicators and anything else that I struggled with.”
After a few years, the NWDAS staff suggested to Claire that she should try the hand control again and she found it now suited her well. In addition, they recommended an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI), Martin Vivers, who could provide specialist tuition from home. In May 2017 Claire successfully passed her driving test at the first attempt. Whilst she continues to take refresher lessons with Martin to retain road confidence, she acknowledges that being able to drive has been a huge boost to her independence.
Claire concludes: “Martin has been such a supportive mentor throughout – building on my skills, knowledge and confidence, and taking me to test level! Having obtained my driving licence, I have now moved to my first flat in Greasby. I have also just started driving a VW Transporter which enables me to transfer from my wheelchair independently. I access the car through a boot lift and lock my wheelchair down in the back of the vehicle. I use a swivel driving seat as well which assists me with mobility. My car has all the correct accessories and adaptations that I require for driving independence and I happily credit this to the help I received from NWDAS – the team’s support went way beyond my expectations. The staff at the Centre have been incredibly understanding and I now know that driving is indeed a possibility!”
Salford Mayor and Mayoress officially open new RDAC driving assessment centre for disabled drivers
Ceremonial Mayor Councillor Ronald H Wilson and Mayoress Pat Wilson officially opened the new RDAC Greater Manchester driving assessment centre, part of the nationwide Driving Mobility accredited network, on 1st November 2018.
Ceremonial Mayor Councillor Ronald H Wilson and Mayoress Pat Wilson officially opened the new RDAC Greater Manchester driving assessment centre, part of the nationwide Driving Mobility accredited network, on 1st November 2018.
The new custom-fitted centre is located at the AJ Bell Stadium Salford which welcomed high numbers of visitors to its launch event. Service users, healthcare professionals and partner associates attended the event along with the Mayor and Mayoress of Salford and senior representatives from the Department for Transport. Members from the wider RDAC network came along to support their Manchester colleagues including the CEO, Colin Barnett. Chief Executive of the overseeing charity Driving Mobility, Edward Trewhella, also attended and was delighted to present the new centre’s Assessment Team Manager, Sean Barratt, with its official accreditation certificate.
The charity, Driving Mobility, accredits a UK network of 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. RDAC is part of this network and has been in existence since 1989 – it provides assessments for older and disabled drivers, passengers, motorcyclists and mobility scooter or wheelchair users. The new RDAC centre in Salford will serve people living in Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Cheshire. It provides a team of Approved Driving Instructors, Occupational Therapists and Administrative Staff – all focused on providing assessments that can facilitate safe adapted motoring, sometimes with adapted vehicles.
The launch event encompassed displays of the latest adapted driving controls, steering mechanisms and wheelchair accessible vehicles. Speeches were delivered on behalf of RDAC and Driving Mobility and the indoor vehicle assessment bay generated a welcoming space for many visitors to engage and discuss independent driving.
Sean Barratt, Assessment Team Manager, commented: “Today has been a huge success and I would like to thank everyone involved with organising and attending. It has been fantastic to see so many people, both end users, professional therapists and dignitaries, coming together to understand more about the driving assessment services RDAC provide. The Mayor and Mayoress commented on how impressed they were with the variety of adaptations available these days. They spent considerable time with us understanding what we do and how we aim to provide driving independence to as many disabled and elderly locals as possible. We really appreciate the support of the Mayor, Mayoress and Salford City Council – this has enhanced the impact of our centre’s opening and provides the perfect platform for growth and success in the future.”
QEF Carshalton: Get Going Live! returns to help young disabled drivers get behind the wheel
Get Going Live! is back on 5th October 2018 and offers a unique experience to young and recently disabled individuals seeking driving independence.
The Carshalton based Driving Assessment Centre, managed by the Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People, will be hosting a relaunched Get Going Live! event so that young and recently disabled people can experience assistive driving.
Friday 5th October. 9:30am – 4pm. Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People (QEF),1 Metcalfe Avenue, Carshalton. SM5 4NR. Free admission and accessible parking.
QEF Mobility Services is one of sixteen independent organisations, many with satellite centres, which offer professional information, advice and driving assessments for people seeking assistance with mobility. Overseen by the charity Driving Mobility, all centres are staffed by Occupational Therapists as well as Approved Driving Instructors so that safety for drivers with injuries, disabilities or restricted mobility is maximised. As well as conducting assessments on behalf of the DVLA, Motability and healthcare professionals, Driving Mobility accepts self-referrals.
Get Going Live! – Try Adapted Driving And Explore Options For Accessible Motoring
QEF Mobility Services is delighted to be hosting the first in a series of free-to-attend Get Going Live! which will be officially opened by Mayor, Councillor Steve Cook and Mayoress Pauline Cook of the London Borough of Sutton.
The Get Going Live! events which focus on younger people with disabilities, novice drivers and individuals that have become recently disabled. Get Going Live! was originally a popular feature of the national Mobility Roadshow which was held annually from 1983 up until 2017. Attendees to this relaunched exhibition will be able to safely test drive a range of accessible and adapted vehicles around a dedicated test track with qualified specialist instructors. The event will provide the opportunity for visitors and their families, including teenagers from the age of 15, to try adapted driving for the first time and explore options for accessible motoring.
What’s On at Get Going Live!
Features of the event will include:
- Free test drives and driving assessments (pre-booking required) please call 0208 770 1151 to book
- Displays from a range of assistive product specialists who supply WAVs (Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles), mobility scooters, wheelchairs and more
- The latest range of adapted driving controls and assistive technology
- Informative presentations regarding accessible motoring
- Refreshments and ample level parking
- Accessible aviation travel training
Marion D’Moirah from QEF comments: “We are delighted to be hosting the relaunched Get Going Live! event. Based on its popular heritage, we believe it will be well attended and deliver a unique experience to young and recently disabled individuals seeking driving independence. Our friendly and knowledgeable team will be on hand to offer the latest guidance regarding assisted driving and to provide instruction around our test drive track. We will have around 30 vehicles available for test drives and overall the atmosphere of the day promises to be fun and fully rewarding.”
Exhibitors at Get Going Live!
Click an exhibitor’s name to see more information…
AAT GB Ltd
Powered solutions to manage people up to 160kg with reduced mobility on stairways. Adult and peadiatric Vacuum Posture Cushions. Bathing solutions. Sleep systems including pressure relief and thermorgulation.Sensory solutions.
Adapted Vehicle Hire
Suppliers of an extensive range of adapted cars and wheelchair accessible vehicles for either long term or short term hire.
Barbara Bus Fund
Belmont Garage Ltd
Brig Ayd Controls Ltd
DS & P Mobility
Gerald Simonds Healthcare Ltd
GM Coachworks Ltd
John Preston Healthcare Group
Kent Mobility Ltd
National Tremor Foundation
The OHMI Trust
Shine Spina Bifida charity
Sutton Shopmobility R & R
Steering Developments Ltd
Have a range of mobility & healthcare products; ranging from scooters & powerchairs to smaller daily living aids such as walking sticks, special cutlery, rollators, bath mats, pressure cushions, wheelchair bags and perching stools.
EXHIBITOR NEWS: TGA Living to showcase pioneering mobility products including WHILL Model C powerchair at Get Going Live!
Surrey based TGA Living, will be showcasing a selection of its quality mobility products at the Get Going Live! event being held by QEF Mobility Services at the Carshalton based Driving Assessment Centre.
Friday 5th October. 9:30am – 4pm. Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People (QEF), 1 Metcalfe Avenue, Carshalton. SM5 4NR. Free admission and accessible parking.
TGA Living is a ‘next generation’ independent living showroom located near Farnham. Part of TGA Mobility, TGA Living provides a comprehensive range of quality assistive products including mobility scooters, wheelchairs, adjustable chairs, stairlifts and aids for daily living. Friendly TGA representatives will be demonstrating a selection of these at Get Going Live! – an accessible vehicle test-drive event for young and recently disabled people seeking driving and independent mobility.
TGA Living will be demonstrating a range of products including:
- New TGA WHILL Model C Powerchair – the pioneering, technologically advanced solution with stunning styling and transportable abilities
- TGA Minimo mobility scooter – the best-selling car boot scooter that folds in seconds
- TGA wheelchair powerpacks – the proven range for powered assistance of attendant controlled wheelchairs
- A selection of aids for independent living including walkers and shower stools.
QEF Mobility Services is one of 20 independent organisations which offer professional information, advice and driving assessments for people seeking assistance with mobility. Overseen by the charity Driving Mobility, all centres are staffed by Occupational Therapists as well as Approved Driving Instructors so that safety for drivers with injuries, disabilities or restricted mobility is maximised. As well as conducting assessments on behalf of the DVLA, Motability and healthcare professionals, Driving Mobility accepts self-referrals.
QEF Mobility Services is delighted to be hosting the first in a series of free-to-attend regional Get Going Live! exhibitions. Get Going Live! was originally a popular feature of the national Mobility Roadshow which ran for over 30 years until 2017. Attendees to this relaunched exhibition will be able to safely test drive a range of accessible and adapted vehicles around a dedicated test track with qualified specialist instructors. The event will provide the opportunity for visitors and their families, including teenagers from the age of 15, to try adapted driving for the first time and explore options for accessible motoring. They will also be able to see a selection of equipment innovations from leading product specialists such as TGA Living.
Roseanne Finch, TGA Living Manager said: “We are looking forward to exhibiting at Get Going Live!, it was always such a popular feature of the national Mobility Roadshow. It provides the unique opportunity to test drives WAVs and see the latest assistive innovations, such as our award-winning products. I’m sure our new WHILL Model C powerchair will be a real show-stopper. We believe exhibiting at regional events such as this are so important for TGA Living as it provides us with the opportunity to meet people face-to-face and discuss individual mobility needs. We focus on this approach every day at TGA Living so independence and peace of mind are maximised through correct product provision.”
TFL Travel Mentors
In partnership with Quickie and will be showcasing the new Q500 and Q700 range of powerchairs. There will be the opportunity to test drive and talk to the Quickie professionals about the revolutionary new chairs.
EXHIBITOR NEWS: Wheelfreedom Launch Q-Series Powerchair with Free Lift & Tilt Upgrade at Get Going Live!
Wheelfreedom are attending the relaunched Get Going Live! event at the QEF Mobility Services centre in Carshalton on 5th October, demonstrating the new Quickie Q-series powerchairs and allowing people the chance to try them out.
Get Going Live: Friday 5th October, 9.30 am – 4 pm, with an official opening by Mayor of Sutton, Councillor Steve Cook at 10 am. Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People (QEF), 1 Metcalfe Avenue, Carshalton, SM5 4NR. Free admission and accessible parking available.
Alongside Sunrise Medical, Wheelfreedom have an exclusive offer for attendees at the event, who can claim a free upgrade to powered Lift & Tilt (worth up to £1,750) on any Q500 or Q700 wheelchair purchased following the event.
The hosts, Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation Mobility Services are an independent organisation, overseen by the charity Driving Mobility, which offers professional information, advice and driving assessments for people seeking assistance with mobility.
Replacing a popular feature from the now defunct Mobility Roadshow, the Get Going Live! event is aimed at younger people with disabilities, novice drivers, and newly disabled people, to help with assisted driving. There will be the opportunity to safely test drive a range of accessible and adapted vehicles around a test track with a qualified specialist instructor.
Alongside this, a selection of assistive product specialists have been invited to attend, including Wheelfreedom, who are attending alongside Quickie Wheelchairs to demonstrate the revolutionary new Q-Series powerchairs that have just been launched.
Attendees will have the chance to try out the new Q100, Q500 and Q700 models, including the flagship standing Q700-Up M, and can arrange a specialist home demonstration. In partnership with Sunrise Medical, Wheelfreedom are offering a free upgrade to a Lift & Tilt module for attendees purchasing any Q500 or Q700 powerchair from them.
All of the Q500 and Q700 powerchairs come pre-prepared for Dahl docking stations, a TÜV certified system allowing people to easily dock in and drive their car from their wheelchair.
Wheelfreedom Managing Director Giles Donald commented: “We’re delighted to have partnered with Sunrise Medical to attend the Get Going Live! event this year. We have had excellent feedback on the Quickie Q-series range since it was launched in August, and believe the ground-breaking technology and choice of mid, rear and front-wheel drive bases makes them the ideal powerchair to suit different WAV configurations. We are looking forward to giving attendees the chance to put these chairs through their paces, and we’re sure they will be as excited about the Q-series powerchairs as we are.”
For further information on the special offer, please visit www.wheelfreedom.com or call 0800 025 8005 to speak to a Wheelfreedom product specialist.
Wilsons Automobiles & Coachworks
Adult Social Care Information & Engagement
Motor Neurone Disease Association
QEF Independent Living Services
QEF Neuro Rehabilitation Services
Offer neurorehabilitation, vocational rehabilitation and transition support for individuals with Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) from all over the UK.
Sutton Community Transport
Triangle Community Services
Get Going Live! Talk schedule: In the Board Room
|9.30||Sarah Vines – Introduction to day|
|10:00||Mayor of Sutton – Opening|
|10:15||Paul Kane from DVSA – Disability Driving Tests|
|11:00||Brian Gordon from Transport for London|
|11:45||Chris Kingsley Introduction to teaching people with disabilities to drive|
|13:30||George Allen Young Drivers|
|14.30||Graham Race from Accessible Aviation & Tryb4uFly making it easier for disabled people to fly|
Talk schedule: In the Aircraft Fuselage
|11:00||Guide to Flying & Tryb4uFly|
|13.00||Guide to Flying & Tryb4uFly|
Partially sighted Bristol musician undertakes Driving Mobility assessment in bid to regain licence
Richard Dutton recently attended the Driving and Mobility Centre (West of England) to assess fitness to drive, twelve years after a serious vehicle collision resulted in partial loss of vision.
Richard Dutton, 65, from Bristol, recently attended the Driving and Mobility Centre (West of England), to assess fitness to drive, twelve years after a serious vehicle collision resulted in partial loss of vision.
The charity, Driving Mobility, is a network of sixteen independent organisations, many with satellite centres, covering England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland which offer professional, high quality information, advice and driving assessment to people who need to gain or retain independence through mobility. Driving assessments include checks of visual, cognitive, and physical abilities with all centres staffed by Occupational Therapists as well as Approved Driving Instructors. The Driving and Mobility Centre (West of England) provides passenger, driving and scooter assessments and enables people to stay independently mobile, in safety and comfort.
In 2006, Richard was involved in a head-on collision with a motorist travelling in the opposite direction, who was overtaking six cars simultaneously. The impact was so severe that Richard spent the following month in the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxfordshire. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by the force of the sudden head-on impact resulted in Homonymous hemianopia – a visual field loss on the same side of both eyes. It is often seen as a result of strokes and traumatic brain injuries due to the way vision is represented in the brain.
Richard underwent a standard eye test, the binocular Esterman visual field test, used by the DVLA to assess if people are fit to drive, and his right-hand side vision was graded as being lower than the acceptable benchmark.
Mr Dutton comments: “The day of the crash, I was on my way to work. A trained jazz musician and performer, I was teaching music at Magdalen College School in Oxford and had also taught prison inmates for 15 years. I simply could not escape the car coming towards me on the same side of the road. My injuries meant that I had to surrender my driving licence and as I was unable to transport music equipment in my car, unfortunately my professional career stopped at that point.”
In 2017, having relocated to Bristol, Richard decided to see if his driving could be assessed again. Accustomed by now to using public transport, he also felt that he had adapted to his altered vision and would like to see if he could regain his licence. The DVLA requested written support from medical professionals and his new GP contacted them. He also received support from a private neurologist in London, who was familiar with Richard’s eye condition and felt he was fulfilling DVLA criteria.
Richard comments: “The DVLA have now agreed to reconsider my case under Section 88 permission. They referred me for an initial assessment with the Driving and Mobility Centre (West of England), at the Vassall Centre in Bristol, who provide comprehensive assessments of ability to drive a vehicle safely. I had a meeting with an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) and an Occupational Therapist, who then accompanied me out in a car.”
Richard continues: “This is the first time I had driven in twelve years and I admit to being a little rusty on the gears and clutch! Mark and Helen were both incredibly supportive however. Afterwards, we spoke about things that had gone well and they also highlighted some areas of concern. The centre has now sent a report to the DVLA and recommended that I take a short course with an accredited driving instructor. The services offered by the Driving Mobility centres are so beneficial and I really hope people are made aware of them in the early stages of rehabilitation. I shall be returning for a second assessment and I am hopeful that as I will be familiar with driving by that stage, a clear picture of my abilities will emerge.”
Wessex DriveAbility gives Basingstoke horrific accident survivor renewed independence
Steve North experienced life-changing injuries and reduced mobility during a horrific accident read how Wessex DriveAbility helped him obtain his licence and regain independence.
Steve North, 39, experienced life-changing injuries and reduced mobility during a horrific accident in 2016. Having previously never taken a driving test, in early 2018 Steve contacted Wessex DriveAbility, a Driving Mobility centre, for a driving assessment with a view to obtaining his licence and regaining independence.
The charity Driving Mobility directs a network of sixteen independent organisations, many with satellite centres, nationwide, which offer professional information, advice and driving assessments to people seeking independent mobility. Centres are staffed by Occupational Therapists as well as Approved Driving Instructors so that a full service, including advice on all aspects of driving and transfer in and out of vehicles, can be provided for drivers with injuries, disabilities or restricted mobility. Wessex Drivability is based at Portswood, Southampton, and also operates outreach centres to reduce travel times for service users. Wessex DriveAbility offers both driving and transfer assessments which include a full consultation, professional advice and a written report.
On the day of the accident, Steve, from Basingstoke, was walking with his wife when two vehicles collided on the bridge they were crossing. Steve was hit by one car and the impact propelled him over the side of the bridge. He landed feet first on the carriageway below. Steve comments: “My wife and I were going out for breakfast, as it was my birthday. I heard a bang and felt the impact of the car – but I don’t remember much after that. I fell fifty feet on to the road below. I guess I was lucky that that road was unusually free of vehicles!”
Steve was initially flown by air ambulance to Southampton Hospital where he was placed in a coma for ten days. He was then kept flat with limited movement for three weeks due to the risk of paralysis from severe injuries. With over twenty fractures, Steve had sustained an L1 spine fracture, a fractured pelvis, badly broken bones in his legs and knees and his left ankle was completely shattered. He was transferred to Salisbury Hospital where doctors fought successfully to save his twisted left leg, only to later have his right leg amputated at the knee.
Steve comments: “I left hospital in February 2017 and used a wheelchair initially but now have a prosthetic leg. I have ongoing physiotherapy and I’m due to have further surgery later this year to fuse my left ankle and relieve pain. Unfortunately, I have been warned there is a chance I could lose my left leg during the operation. Having had a few driving lessons many years ago, I have decided that now would be a great time to obtain my driving licence as I would like to retain independence long-term. “
Mr North visited Wessex Mobility for an initial assessment of his abilities, which included a discussion regarding his health and current medication, before trialling various adaptations and then being accompanied for a drive in a dual-controlled vehicle with a brake/accelerator lever hand control and steering aid.
Steve comments: “Laura from the centre came with me in the car and was absolutely brilliant. I was very nervous but she calmed me down and made me feel so confident. After the drive, I received detailed advice and a list of Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs) to contact. I am now taking lessons in an adapted vehicle and I go out driving three to four times each week. I am determined to pass my test and ensure that I keep as mobile as possible in the future.”