Driving Assessments Archives - Driving Mobility

Bristol’s Driving and Mobility Centre celebrates 25 years of delivering independence to disabled and older people

Established in 1994 and part of the charitable Driving Mobility network, the Driving and Mobility Centre based in Bristol, has achieved 25 years of providing assessments and accessible services to disabled and older people.

Established in 1994 and part of the charitable Driving Mobility network, the Driving and Mobility Centre based in Bristol, has achieved 25 years of providing assessments and accessible services to disabled and older people.

Initially established as a volunteer-led Disabled Living Centre (DLC), to demonstrate wide-ranging adaptive equipment and disability aids, the centre now focuses on specialist fitness-to-drive assessments along with other services regarding independent mobility. As a Community Interest Company, it is accredited by the national charity Driving Mobility, which oversees twenty independent organisations across the UK. Each centre offers professional support and driving assessments to people who need to gain, or retain, the ability to drive following a diagnosis involving impairment or disability.

Daniela Meucci, Centre Manager, comments: “We are delighted and proud to be celebrating this significant milestone. Our original DLC remit – ‘to maintain the provision of information and assessment for equipment to support independent living’ – continues to hold true today. Our team has helped vast numbers of locals living with restricted mobility to enjoy more independence and inclusive lifestyles. Despite financial struggles in the past, we have been able to grow our services whilst maintaining quality and professionalism. Today our driving, passenger, vehicle adaptation and mobility scooter assessments are delivered by highly experienced OTs (Occupational Therapists) and ADIs (Approved Driving Instructors). These diligent and dedicated professionals support people who refer themselves to us or are referred via Health Professionals, the DVLA, Motability, and the Police. Through advanced checking that includes motor, sensory and cognitive function, we are able to enhance safety on the road not only for our service users, but all highway users.”

The Bristol centre began as a voluntary Disabled Living Centre (DLC) which was one of the first services managed by disabled people. Despite challenging finances, it was determined, and had ambitious ideas, aiming to offer informed and impartial advice with equipment displays so locals living with restricted mobility could discover ways to enhance freedom. Later that year there was a funding breakthrough when a grant from Avon Social Services and Bristol City Council, allowed the DLC to establish premises at The Vassall Centre, where the Centre remains today. Assistive product suppliers were supportive in providing daily living equipment for this new accessible and spacious venue – allowing displays and services to be expanded. Work progressed, including a project to pilot a Driving Service, an accessible garden, a wheelchair testing area, clothing support, multi-media library and open days.

In 1998, the driving service was consolidated with funding from the National Lottery Charities Board. A part-time OT and peripatetic driving instructor were employed so that a more comprehensive service regarding adapted driving could be provided. The facilities were enhanced with an indoor vehicle area and a static driving rig for more detailed driver analysis.

In 2012 local authority funding was lost and so significant streamlining of the DLC service was implemented – hence a focus on driving and mobility assessment became the core service thanks to continuing Department for Transport support.

Today, the Driving and Mobility Centre (West of England) continues to grow and develop. The Centre’s specialist team provides professional advice regarding vehicle adaptations, driving controls, wheelchair accessible vehicle solutions and equipment loading options. In addition to its headquarters in Bristol it has established outreach centres in Yeovil and Weymouth.

Daniela concludes: “Our survival in the face of various funding battles over the years highlights the strong commitment of staff and exemplifies the support we have received from our local community and the Department for Transport. If we can maintain long term funding for the vital services we provide, I am confident about the future, and we will continue to instigate sustainable strategies to help more people, more older drivers and disabled drivers, benefit from independent mobility, and safe, confident driving.”

 

East Anglian DriveAbility’s extended centre in Thetford successfully launches to help elderly and disabled drivers

East Anglian DriveAbility (EAD) has officially opened its new extended Thetford centre to high visitor numbers.   

East Anglian DriveAbility (EAD), a charity which is part of Driving Mobility’s UK network of assessment centres for elderly and disabled drivers, has officially opened its new extended Thetford centre to high visitor numbers.

Isabel Coe, retired Centre Manager, officially cut the ribbon to celebrate the opening of the new training facilities and expanded waiting area facilities. The opening was also supported by Helen Dolphin MBE, chair of the EAD charity and highly respected accessibility campaigner. A high number of visitors attended particularly Occupational Therapists (OT) and fellow healthcare professionals who were keen to discover more about the latest services offered by EAD. EAD is currently expanding its services beyond driving assessments to include quality guidance regarding all forms of accessible travel and independent mobility.

Driving Mobility accredits 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 guidance regarding adapted controls and wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAV), its OTs and Driving Advisors provide additional advice regarding mobility scooters, powerchairs and wheelchairs.

The open day showcased several adapted cars and WAVs from the EAD fleet which included a variety of specialist driving controls and disabled driver and upfront passenger solutions. Visitors were also able to meet several specialist manufacturers which included TGA mobility scooters, Autochair car boot hoists and the WAV convertor Sirus Automotive. The TGA mobility scooter test drive course proved to be busy all day with OTs trialing products and gaining new insight. CEA Mobility, Andys Kars and David Relph also assisted with vehicle adaptations during the event.

Yvette Bateman, CEO, East Anglian DriveAbility, comments: “Our official opening was a significant success for visitors and our charity. Attendees told us they gained so much from coming to the event and hence we now plan to hold an open day annually at either our Thetford or Colchester centre. It was a delight to welcome lots of OT students from the UEA who gained invaluable vehicle and product knowledge for future client prescriptions.  Thank you to all the EAD team for organising such a positive event and we appreciate the support of several manufacturers who attended and added depth to our showcase. We are proud of our new facilities which give us the platform to expand services so independent mobility is achievable for many more people whether that’s in a car or any other mode of accessible transport.”

CRM Platform drives change for national charity Driving Mobility

Driving Mobility appoints CRM specialists Silverbear to deliver its digital transformation programme across 15 individual Driving Mobility locations throughout England and Wales.

Driving Mobility, a nationwide network of independent organisations that offers professional advice and assessments for people who need to gain or retain independence through mobility, has appointed CRM specialists Silverbear to deliver its digital transformation programme.

The partnership will see Driving Mobility, which is supported by the Department for Transport and helps those returning to driving following accident or illness and those with a physical disability, incorporate Silverbear’s application management platform across 15 individual Driving Mobility locations throughout England and Wales.

Driving Mobility conducts around 15,000 clinically led driving assessments each year, a significant proportion of which are referrals from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). These are currently coordinated and booked via the postal system due to data security implications – a process that incurs significant postage and stationery costs.

Silverbear’s ability to transfer this entire process to a digital environment will not only expedite the assessment booking procedure, but also eliminate high assessment-related administration costs for both Driving Mobility and the DVLA.

Furthermore, Silverbear’s inclusion on the G-Cloud framework, part of the government’s Digital Marketplace strategy, means that Driving Mobility and the DVLA can manage bookings in a safe and secure CRM platform that has been approved by central government.

Edward Trewhella, Chief Executive at Driving Mobility, comments: “Integrating Silverbear is one of the steps that we are taking to ensure consistency and standardisation across the entire organisation. The project, which has full support from the Department of Transport, will help us vastly improve our interactions with customers, streamline our internal procedures and help take the organisation into a digital world. We’re delighted to be working with Silverbear and now look forward to taking the first steps on our digital transformation journey.”

Motability, a UK charity that enables disabled people, their families and their carers to lease a new car, scooter or powered wheelchair using their disability benefit, also accounts for a significant number of Driving Mobility’s 15,000 assessments, all of which are booked and managed using laborious manual methods. Silverbear Membership is expected to help reduce their administration costs and streamline the booking process for Motability users.

Carl Grieves, Chief Executive at Silverbear, adds: “Organisations such as Driving Mobility, many of which are using legacy CRM systems that are out-dated if not unfit for purpose, are realising the value that modern CRM platforms such as those offered by Silverbear can add to day-to-day operations. Equally, the importance of going digital in an increasingly digital world and creating resilient organisations using robust software solutions is now well understood, and CRM has become the backbone of this process.”

Driving Mobility now plans to integrate Silverbear within individual driving assessments. Currently, each assessment, which takes approximately two hours, is conducted by two people; one who sits in the front alongside the driver being assessed and one who sits in the back of the vehicle taking notes using a pen and paper, which are then typed up after the assessment has finished.

Using Silverbear, Driving Mobility will be able to avoid duplication of effort by adding case notes directly into the CRM platform via an electronic device, in real time, straight from the vehicle.

Phase one of the project begins in June and the new platform is expected to go live in December.

For more information on Driving Mobility visit www.drivingmobility.org.uk. For more information on Silverbear visit www.silverbear.com.

Wessex DriveAbility launches older drivers’ assessment service with Dorset Police

Wessex DriveAbility, part of the Driving Mobility network of driving assessment centres, has launched a new fitness to drive scheme for drivers referred to the charity by Dorset Police.

Wessex DriveAbility, part of the Driving Mobility network of driving assessment centres, has launched a new fitness to drive scheme for drivers referred to the charity by Dorset Police.

Driving Mobility accredits 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. Wessex DriveAbility is part of this network with a main assessment centre in Southampton and further locations in Basingstoke, Salisbury, Ferndown and the Isle of Wright. Its team of Approved Driving Instructors, Occupational Therapists and Administrators provide comprehensive driving assessments for individuals who refer themselves to the service or are put forward by the DVLA or Motability. Wessex Driveability has also managed referrals from Hampshire Constabulary since 2013 which has now been extended to Dorset Police. This agreement, part of the ‘Older Drivers’ Forum’, provides a possible alternative for drivers who are to be prosecuted or fined following a road traffic accident or incident. Other areas which currently operate this scheme are South Wales, Cornwall, East Anglia and Newcastle.

If a driver aged 70 or over has been identified by the Police for driving ‘without due care and attention’ or ‘without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place’, they can be referred to Wessex DriveAbility for a fitness-to-drive assessment. This is not a legal requirement for each driver however it provides an opportunity to avoid further legal action or attendance on courses such as speed awareness sessions. Following the driving assessment, Wessex DriveAbility submits a report to Dorset Police which concludes whether the driver is safe to drive, requires training or must cease indefinitely. If it is recommended that the driver should cease driving, the findings are compiled with the Police’s initial incident report and sent to the DVLA who then make a final decision.

Rachel Odell, Wessex DriveAbility Centre Manager, comments: “We were the first Driving Mobility Centre to pioneer this programme with Hampshire Police and are delighted that the Dorset Force are now on-board. This provides a vital choice for older drivers who wish to replace potential prosecution, points or a fine, with a positive alternative. Here at Wessex, we focus on providing safe driving independence for people of all ages and abilities. Our comprehensive assessment services, led by healthcare and driving specialists, are ideally suited to support the Police – helping to deliver a better approach to driving and awareness of personal capabilities. Ultimately this service assists with safety for all road users and we look forward to working with other Constabularies in the future.”

#MyDrivingMobility

East Anglian DriveAbility ensures new driving future for James following severe spinal injuries

East Anglian DriveAbility has enabled new driving possibilities for James Kipling from Kings Lynn

East Anglian DriveAbility (EAD), one of Driving Mobility’s UK assessment centres, has enabled new driving possibilities for James Kipling from Kings Lynn, after a motorbike accident resulted in traumatic injuries to his spine.

Driving Mobility accredits 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 James’ motorbike accident two years ago, metal implants were inserted into his back to support his damaged spine. Now a wheelchair user and unable to walk, James began to investigate how he could learn to drive a vehicle for the first time. His GP advised that Driving Mobility provides specialist driving assessments with professional advice regarding suitable adaptations. Following a self-referral, James visited his local centre, EAD, in 2018.

James, age 24, comments: “I felt quite nervous when I arrived at EAD but I was very impressed from the start. The Centre staff ran through my medical records and assessed my physical and cognitive abilities and then asked me to try a Static Assessment Rig. This is a driving simulator that can be fitted with different adaptations to match individual requirements. I was able to operate the accelerator and brake from the steering wheel, which gave me a good idea of how I could drive a car whist in a safe, controlled environment.”

EAD’s Static Assessment Rig provides information on reaction speeds, vision, steering ability and braking strength. As James successfully completed this part of the assessment, EAD felt confident he was ready to proceed to driving a dual-controlled vehicle accompanied by a Centre Driving Advisor.

James comments: “The Driving Assessment was amazing! The same adaptations were fitted to the vehicle and because I had already practised with them on the driving simulator, I picked it up straight away. The whole experience was made straightforward and easy for me.”

Following his assessment, Driving Mobility provided James with a comprehensive written report which he took to his GP for medical approval to drive. The DVLA were updated and James subsequently passed his theory test. He is now applying for a Motability vehicle which will be fitted with the recommended driving controls and is looking forward to applying for his driving test.

James concludes: “I would prefer to use my own adapted car for driving lessons, so that I get plenty of practice with the adaptations best suited to me. I already have a transfer board to assist me with getting from my wheelchair into a car and I plan to use the centre ring accelerator and a side handbrake that I trialled at EAD. I’m really feeling confident and positive about future driving and I’m very grateful to the EAD team for helping me get to this point.”

North West Driving Assessment Service launches new outreach centre at Leyland Community Fire Station

NWDAS is now officially offering independent driving assessments and adaptation assessments to people of all ages at Leyland Community Fire Station.

The North West Driving Assessment Service (NWDAS) based in St Helens, Merseyside, has launched a new outreach scheme at a community fire station in Leyland, Lancashire, providing driving and adaptation assessments alongside home fire safety guidance.

NWDAS is delivered by Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (Bridgewater) and accredited by the charity, Driving Mobility. Its 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. Driving Mobility oversees a network of twenty independent organisations – all striving to provide safe and independent mobility.

Following a successful pilot of the new outreach scheme, NWDAS is now officially offering independent driving assessments and adaptation assessments to people of all ages at Leyland Community Fire Station. This additional location reduces travel time for many individuals living in the North West.

Rebecca Jones, NWDAS Team Leader, comments: “We are delighted to have launched our new outreach service which we believe will greatly benefit the driving community in Lancashire. The NWDAS serves the whole of the North West, and the additional Leyland venue allows us to be even more accessible to the general public. We hope this will encourage people to gain professional driving information and specialist advice. The new service reflects Bridgewater’s strong commitment to collaborating with local partner organisations in all the local communities in which we work, so we can ensure all our services are not only of the highest quality, but they are also accessible for all.”

As part of its new service arrangement, NWDAS is a preferred partner of Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service. As such, clients visiting NWDAS in Leyland for a driving or adaptation assessment can also be referred into the “Fire Safe and Well Check Scheme”. This includes advice and free home checks, free smoke alarms and additional safety equipment where deemed appropriate.

Rebecca comments: “Through our new partnership with Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, we are enabling our driving assessment clients to also benefit from free home fire safety checks. This is an outstanding additional service which reiterates our comprehensive duty of care to vulnerable clients.”

To find out more about the support available from The North West Driving Assessment Centre visit www.bridgewater.nhs.uk/northwestdrivingassessmentservice or call 01942 483713.

#MyDrivingMobility