Driving Mobility Archives - Driving Mobility

How Emily Learns to Transfer Again

Emily Roberts learns to transfer again and demonstrates how she transfers in and out of her car.

In this video Driving Mobility friend, Emily Roberts, demonstrates how she transfers in and out of her wheelchair and into/out of her car.

Emily says: “So, I had a new car which I could drive but couldn’t transfer or lift myself into. It really set me back, I cried, screamed and got really angry, (sorry mum and dad). After LOADS of encouragement and trying every way except using the kitchen sink, i’ve got there. Differently abled people find themselves adapting and overcoming new challenges every single day, please, don’t give up, you’ll find a way to do anything you put your mind to, your way. ”


You can subscribe to Emily’s YouTube channel here

For more information on how Driving Mobility driving assessment centres can help with vehicle adaptation advice please contact your local centre https://www.drivingmobility.org.uk/find-a-centre/ 



Driving Mobility’s RDAC Disability Driving School helps first client pass driving test

Following a severe arm injury, James Martin, 30, from Farnworth near Bolton, has become the first Driving Mobility client to pass his driving test thanks to the support of the new RDAC Disability Driving School.

man in adapted vehicle

Following a severe arm injury, James Martin, 30, from Farnworth near Bolton, has become the first Driving Mobility client to pass his driving test thanks to the support of the new RDAC Disability Driving School.

Father of two young boys, James experienced a life changing injury whilst working at a plastic recycling centre in 2018. His arm and hand were crushed in a mechanical baler which resulted in hospitalisation, several operations and amputation of two fingers. After his initial recovery, James continued with rehabilitation however has been left with limited mobility and strength in his right hand and arm. His injury has also affected his back and ability to walk which meant passing his test to drive a car was essential for independence and supporting his family. To gain his licence, James would need to be assessed by a qualified organisation who could professionally check whether adapted driving controls would be suitably safe. His rehab manager researched suitable driving assessment services and decided to contact RDAC in Salford, a Driving Mobility centre, to see if they could help.

RDAC centres (Regional Driving Assessment Centres) are centrally located in the UK and are part of the wider Driving Mobility network. Supported by the Department for Transport, Driving Mobility is a charity that accredits over 20 driving and mobility assessment centres across the UK. Many with outreach facilities, these provide clinically-led ‘fitness to drive’ guidance for disabled drivers who want to maintain or regain independence behind the wheel. Driving Mobility centres either operate within the NHS or as independent charities – all focused on assisted driving or personal mobility through accessible travel, wheelchairs and mobility scooters. The Salford RDAC centre provides all of these services alongside a new Disability Driving School. Established in 2020, this specialist tuition service helps drivers with life-changing diagnosis, such as James, to learn how to drive with adaptations.

Following an initial telephone consultation to evaluate his needs, James attended RDAC for a driving assessment in October 2020. With the help of John Allen, ADI (Approved Driving Instructor) and an RDAC Occupational Therapist, James completed a desk-based session, checking cognitive abilities and general mobility, followed by a 45-minute assessment out on the road. James drove one of the centre’s fleet of automatic dual-controlled cars which had already been adapted with a steering aid to ascertain its suitability. RDAC had recommended a ‘Lodgesons Lollipop’ grip secondary control unit which clips to a steering wheel and communicates with a car via Bluetooth. This provides an easy-grip handle for turning a vehicle safely with one hand and can include a range of secondary controls.

During James’ assessment he demonstrated that he could use this adaptation to steer with confidence; however, it highlighted he could not affectively use standard indicators, especially when navigating roundabouts. This led to RDAC’s recommendation to integrate indicator controls within any future steering lollipop.

Following his assessment, James was given a consultation and a report explaining RDAC’s recommendations. To pass his DVSA driving test for the first time, they advised he completed driving lessons at the centre with a car specifically adapted to his needs. James agreed and was assigned specialist Driving Assessor Dominic Hibbin to instruct him for an initial 10 hours. It was estimated James would then be experienced enough to take his test and pass without any problems. He completed the course with the RDAC Disability Driving School and did indeed pass his test first time during November 2020 as he explains: “I thoroughly enjoyed my driving lessons; Dom was excellent and believed in me all the way. He gave me confidence that I could do it and made me feel relaxed. I passed the theory test and then when it came to driving, I took this relaxed feeling into the practical test. I knew this would be important, as if I was relaxed, the examiner would be relaxed. I’m so happy to say I passed first time and can now look forward to driving.”

James has applied for a Motability car through his Personal Independence Payment. He has the RDAC recommendations which will be used to specify the right adaptations so he can drive safely. James already has plans for how this is going to improve his life: “Having a car will make a massive difference to us. I’ll be able to take my boys further afield as they love to be out kicking a football and we can go and see my mum in the Scottish Borders. On a day-to-day basis, we won’t have to get taxis everywhere and I can help my elderly neighbours more with their shopping. Shopping at the minute is hard as I struggle to walk and carry bags so have to keep stopping. However, I’ve carried on during lockdown to help my neighbours who can’t get out.”

James is optimistic about the future and is so grateful for the support of RDAC. He recommends its services to all with driving challenges, as he concludes: “RDAC are one excellent organisation! I’m chuffed to have been the first person to benefit from this new service and will share the news with all my friends and family. They were all fantastic and gave me the belief I could pass my test again. John’s mock driving test really helped before the big day. Dom kept saying how comfortable he felt in the car with me during the lessons and we had a rewarding time together. I now have the details of a vehicle convertor who RDAC recommends so can get my car ready quickly when Motability hopefully approve my application. My rehab manager is confident I’ll be successful, so I can look forward to brighter days when the lockdown is eased.”


‘The Force’ is strong with Star Wars Chris and Obi the dog thanks to Driving Mobility

Lifelong Star Wars film fan Chris Welch, 48 from Poole, has maintained driving independence thanks to the support of Driving Mobility and his assistance dog Obi.

Lifelong Star Wars film fan Chris Welch, 48 from Poole, has maintained driving independence thanks to the support of Driving Mobility and his assistance dog Obi.

Chris is a medically retired sales manager with five children, who has peripheral neuropathy. Despite significant problems with mobility and pain, Chris is a dedicated parent who supports his family with the help of Obi, his assistance dog. Obi, a three-year-old black Labrador, is named after a character in the popular Star Wars films – the Jedi Knight, Obi-wan Kenobi. Obi has been trained to help Chris with daily tasks such as dressing and fetching items, along with supporting him when out driving. Chris unfortunately experiences high levels of anxiety on a regular basis; however, Obi has the ability to sense stress and will always move safely and calmly alongside his owner to reassure him if needed in the car. As Chris has to renew his driving licence every three years due to his condition, he was instructed by the DVLA to attend a Driving Mobility centre for his regular ‘fitness-to-drive’ assessment. The centre closest to him was Wessex DriveAbility, accredited by Driving Mobility, based in Southampton.

Driving Mobility is a network of 21 independent centres, with over 70 outreach facilities, that provide clinically led, driving and mobility assessments for people with disabilities. Clients self-refer or are signposted to Driving Mobility from the DVLA, Motability, the Police, and healthcare professionals such as GPs. Each centre is either an independent charity or an NHS department which provides Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs) and Occupational Therapists (OTs). By completing an assessment, clients such as Chris, receive professional advice and guidance to remain mobile with the most appropriate driving adaptations, accessible vehicles or equipment such as mobility scooters and wheelchairs.

When Government restrictions due to the Covid pandemic were eased, Chris was impressed with the speed at which his assessment was arranged. He was able to visit Wessex DriveAbility within two weeks of booking an appointment. Chris and Obi drove from Poole to Southampton for their assessment and were immediately put at ease on arrival by the Wessex staff: “I was very anxious before my appointment, however Rachel and her team were amazing. As soon as Obi and I arrived, they understood my anxieties and did all they could to make me feel relaxed. They respected that Obi was ‘at work’ so didn’t give him any fuss and were really patient so I didn’t get stressed – I felt their care was sincere and genuine. When you have a disability, you feel like you are fighting for everything all of the time, commonly things that able-bodied people take for granted. This was so different at Wessex, they kept saying ‘they were on my side’ and I didn’t feel awkward or tense, I’d recommend them 100%.”

Chris’ assessment started with desk-based activities to check his cognitive abilities. He was assessed by an OT and ADI who also checked his general mobility and movement in relation to operating a car safely. Once this and an eyesight assessment were completed, Chris was accompanied on a 45-minute driving assessment around the outskirts of Southampton.

A car from the centre’s fleet was used for the assessment so Chris was given plenty of time to familiarise himself with the controls as he explains: “I’d never driven a Ford Focus before however it wasn’t a problem as we only set off when I felt totally comfortable. It helped I had Obi by my side who always travels upfront and wears his special seatbelt. The Covid safe procedures were very thorough – we all wore masks, the car had been thoroughly disinfected and we regularly hand sanitised. I was assessed driving along different types of roads and given various junctions and obstacles, such as parked cars, to negotiate. They checked things like my use of mirrors, road alignment and how I interacted with other road users. I was surprisingly calm throughout the experience in the end, I’d even say it was enjoyable despite the traffic being pretty busy.”

Chris returned to the centre and the final report was compiled by the Driving Mobility OT and ADI. For Chris it was a positive outcome in terms of driving – he was deemed fit to continue using a car independently, with Obi by his side of course. After the whole assessment was over, the Wessex team asked if they could give Obi lots of fuss, which they did, and he loved.

With the support of Driving Mobility, Chris can now continue to drive a VW Transporter with no specialist driving adaptations. However, as his condition is progressive, he may need assisted controls in the future which can be recommended by Wessex DriveAbility. Chris requires this eight-seater vehicle to transport his large family and Obi, which is vital during the summer months. As getting cold severely increases the pain in his legs, Chris tends to remain indoors at home as much as he can during the winter. Having the ability to drive is crucial to build ‘special memories in the sunshine for his children’ and to perform ‘dad duties’ which involves ferrying them to activities. Chris is used to being housebound and believes many people with disabilities can provide advice to people struggling with lockdowns caused by the pandemic. He fully recommends the companionship of a dog or pet as: “they make a huge difference to your mental health and wellbeing.”

In summary Chris remarks that the Wessex DriveAbility service is second to none: “They made me feel confident and helped me demonstrate that I could still drive safely. You do have doubts about your abilities, but their exceptional support reinforced I could do it! As a person with a disability, you do worry about losing your driving freedom as you have already lost so much. However disabled Star Wars actors such as Kenny Baker, who played the droid R2D2, and ‘Ewok’ Warwick Davis, helped me as a child respect people for who they are, irrespective of ability. I wasn’t born with a disability so have had to adapt – these guys have always inspired me. Those films were pure escapism for me during my childhood and still are to this day – hence calling my dog Obi. He really enjoyed his time with Driving Mobility, especially all the attention he received from the Wessex team. They were all so professionally brilliant and encouraged me all the way. I cannot sing their praises enough.”

Chris was approved to continue driving however some clients may be advised to seek further tuition or their licence is revoked. Not being able to drive a car does not mean independence is lost as each Driving Mobility centre can provide alternatives. These may include advice on using accessible public transport or ownership of a mobility scooter. Several centres also now provide a HUBs service which offers a comprehensive programme of guidance on all aspects of localised assisted transportation and accessible lifestyles.

Driving Mobility joins with Shopmobility to open up services to more disabled people

Driving Mobility, the national charity that accredits independent driving and mobility assessment centres, is delighted to announce it will now be operating the National Federation of Shopmobility (NFSUK).

Driving Mobility, the national charity that accredits independent driving and mobility assessment centres, is delighted to announce it will now be operating the National Federation of Shopmobility (NFSUK).

The National Federation of Shopmobility (NFSUK) was founded in 1989 and is a non-profit organisation. Its schemes, such as mobility scooter and wheelchair loan stores in shopping centres, aim to ‘promote equality of access and to encourage the independence of people with disabilities (permanent or temporary)’. Managed by the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) since 2014, the organisation has achieved impressive expansion of its services, however to increase opportunities further, the NFSUK will now be managed by Driving Mobility. This development represents a significant milestone in NFSUK history, and will ensure that awareness and accessibility to its services will be greatly enhanced.

Driving Mobility is regarded as the national voice of assisted driving and independence.  As a charity supported by the Department for Transport, its 70 locations support over 20,000 clients each year with solutions for independent driving and personal mobility. The majority of its provision focuses on clinically-led ‘fitness-to-drive’ assessments and recommendations regarding appropriate mobility equipment. Service users self-refer or are signposted to Driving Mobility centres via the DVLA, Motability, Police and healthcare professionals. Every centre operates with the expert guidance of Occupational Therapists, Approved Driving Instructors and specialist staff who strive to achieve positive outcomes for all clients with restricted mobility.

Many of the Driving Mobility centres provide additional information and guidance regarding accessible transport options and alternatives to driving – known as HUBs services. The charity also leads in educational and research programmes associated with mobility and independent transportation. Driving Mobility has aspirations to be an international leader in the field whilst delivering holistic solutions at a local level across the UK. By being part of this larger network, NFSUK member Schemes will now benefit from greater engagement with local NHS Units, neighbouring schemes, independent clinics, retail outlets and the general public.

Edward Trewhella, Driving Mobility CEO, comments: “We believe that managing the successful Shopmobility scheme will complement our current strengths and future aims. Through our unique sector knowledge and contacts, it will open up provision of loan mobility equipment to more disabled people so that levels of safety and independence can increase – critical during these challenging times. The BHTA has completed an excellent job in facilitating NFSUK development, however Driving Mobility are proud to be embarking on this vital role and look forward to delivering a strong platform for future growth.”

Driving Mobility is a membership organisation, driven by and for the benefit of, its member centres – an ethos which it will extend to the NFSUK members who will have full involvement in its ongoing development. There will be a dedicated Driving Mobility staff member responsible for working with the scheme, and ensuring quality of service is maintained, Shopmobility will continue to follow the BHTA Code of Practice approved by The Chartered Trading Standards Institute.



Driving Mobility – how we deliver driving and mobility independence across the UK

In this video, the assisted driving and mobility assessment services provided by Driving Mobility are showcased through the William Merit Centre in Leeds

In this professional video, the assisted driving and mobility assessment services provided by Driving Mobility are showcased through the William Merit Centre in Leeds. This centre is part of the Driving Mobility network across the UK. Find your local centre here

Driving Mobility, supported by the Department for Transport As a registered charity, Driving Mobility accredits a network of 20 driving assessment centres covering the whole of the UK. Many with outreach facilities, these centres include independent charities and NHS centres which offer professional information and assessment so disabled and elderly people can gain or retain independence.

Driving Mobility ensures that there are common standards, promotes good practice and offers training and education to all regional centres, whilst working closely with associated national organisations. These include the Department for Transport, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, Driver and Vehicle Agency (NI), Motability and the Police, along with many other valued stakeholders.

Driving Mobility is privileged to have Baroness Thomas of Winchester as their patron, and is supported by HM Government.


Driving Mobility to showcase services at largest virtual international disability event

Disability Awareness Day (DAD), the largest annual single-day event of its kind, will be taking place virtually for a week this year, 25th-31st October – supported by Driving Mobility.

Disability Awareness Day (DAD), the largest annual single-day event of its kind, will be taking place virtually for a week this year, 25th-31st October – supported by Driving Mobility.

DAD is a ‘pan disability event which promotes a culture that focuses on what disabled people can-do’. Dave Thompson MBE founded the organising charity Warrington Disability Partnership (WDP) in 1991 and the annual DAD event in 1992. Held in a tented village on the grounds of Walton Hall, Warrington, DAD provides a wide range of features including assistive product displays, workshops, advice and entertainment for disabled adults and children. It has inspired similar events across the world and has been visited several times by members of the Royal family, the Minister for Disabled People and received a Red Arrows flypast. WDP was presented with the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services in 2006 and has raised over £1,000,000 for good causes.

In 2019, the event was supported by 260 exhibitors with over 25,000 visitors attending on the day. The event has run for 28 years and welcomed over 600,000 people however due to the pandemic, the 2020 event will be held online at: https://dadvirtual.org.uk/. This year there will be over 200 virtual exhibitors including Driving Mobility.

The main event will take place on 25th October 2020, followed by video seminars, workshops and events until 31st October. Alongside other specialist exhibitors, Driving Mobility will be demonstrating its range of assisted driving and mobility assessment services for all ages. Service users self-refer or are signposted to its 20 Centres from the DVLA, Motability, the Police and healthcare professionals such as GPs and Occupational Therapists. These Centres provide over 70 outreach facilities bringing services closer to where people live. Centres are managed by independent charities or NHS departments – all focused on helping people with disabilities or life changing diagnosis to continue driving safely.

Edward Trewhella, Driving Mobility CEO, comments: “We are delighted to be supporting DAD this year as we believe it is a fantastic initiative to help people with restricted mobility on an international scale. Our stand will include an array of useful information including case studies, videos and a brochure that introduces our services. Visitors will be able to contact us direct to enquire about driving and mobility assessments.”