Latest mobility scooter training at QEF to support new Driving Mobility HUBS initiative
TGA has provided a free educational workshop for professionals at QEF Mobility Services, South London, so its assessors can provide the latest mobility scooter advice to clients.
Part of the Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People, QEF Mobility Services is one the UK’s largest charitable providers of mobility advice and equipment for people with disabilities and age-related impairments. Based in Carshalton, it is part of the nationwide Driving Mobility network of driving assessment centres which is supported by the Department for Transport. Each of the 20 main centres, many with additional outreach facilities, provide guidance on assisted driving, adapted vehicles and fitness-to-drive. Occupational Therapists (OTs), Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs) and Administration staff support individuals signposted from the DVLA, Motability, Police and healthcare professionals.
QEF Mobility Services is currently one of seven centres involved with a pilot ‘HUBS’ scheme led by Driving Mobility which aims to provide advice regarding accessible travel, transport and lifestyles. Part of this initiative is to focus on providing solutions if individuals have their driving licence revoked ie. keeping people mobile and connected as per the Government’s latest inclusive strategy. Solutions can include the safe and appropriate use of mobility scooters – hence the workshop by TGA.
QEF team members received an informative presentation from TGA’s Eric Cooper and the opportunity to test drive a range of latest products from this established supplier. Education included a variety of topics ranging from scooter classification, the Highway Code and social prescription. OTs, ADIs and clinicians were able to experience hands-on the TGA Breeze S4, Supersport, Minimo Autofold and the multi award-winning WHILL Model C powerchair.
Paul Graham, QEF Senior Occupational Therapist commented: “We would like to thank Eric and Dom from TGA for taking the time to present to us. Their practical mobility scooter demonstrations and our team test drives provided the opportunity to see and feel the latest technology in action and appreciate how mobility scooter styling has been modernised. We had a new member of staff attend who had never driven a scooter before so this provided the ideal opportunity to understand about speed control and handling.”
Paul continues: “The value of scooters in terms of social inclusion is immeasurable however safe driving and correct product provision is imperative – this is why QEF assessment services are vital. This also dovetails with our Transport Hub programme so we can offer advice on accessible travel with scooters. Amanda Beck, our Transport Hub Project Lead, also attended which was beneficial to the whole pilot programme. TGA’s workshop was a rewarding addition to our educational agenda.”
Eric Cooper, TGA Product Specialist added: “Dom and I were delighted with the positive feedback we received from the attendees at QEF. We were asked lots of questions and the interactive test drive session was a light-hearted experience with an educational purpose. We handed out copies of our new professional’s guide to scooters and highlighted the other signposting material we have in production, including the scooter passport. TGA is fully supportive of Driving Mobility’s HUBS initiative as we believe greater accessibility and social engagement is vital for positive mental health and well-being.”
TGA provides free educational workshops for healthcare professionals so the latest knowledge regarding mobility scooters can be gathered for enhanced assessment processes. In addition, it offers a comprehensive support programme for safe scooter driving awareness days, online advice, driver training and high-visibility clothing. Its test drive course is available free of charge for associated public and professional events and TGA advisors can provide objective guidance regarding the latest techniques to remain safe whilst driving. The test drive course will be next available at Naidex 2020 which will be held at the NEC on 17-18th March.
Driving Mobility launches pilot ‘Hubs’ scheme to support elderly and differently abled persons in improving their community and outdoor mobility.
“This new provision of advice and information delivers multiple benefits for the public, communities, local authorities and the health service.”
Supported by the Department for Transport, Driving Mobility, the charity that accredits a nationwide network of driving assessment centres, has successfully introduced its new ‘Hubs’ pilot scheme to broaden information and guidance regarding accessible travel.
The launch of new services, across seven regional centres, is in response to HM Government’s ‘A connected society’ strategy which aims to tackle the growing issue of loneliness. Other Government initiatives such as The Department for Transport’s Inclusive Transport Strategy have also provided the catalyst to develop these new transportation information hubs. Complementing existing driving assessment services, these additional resources focus on reducing social isolation through more effective use of accessible transport and greater independent mobility. Each centre aims to deliver a ‘one stop shop’ approach to providing viable options for elderly and disabled non-drivers – ranging from information on accessible public and community transport through to mobility scooters and wheelchairs.
Edward Trewhella, Driving Mobility CEO comments: “The launch of the pilot Hubs scheme is a significant milestone for our charity and its service users. This new provision of advice and information delivers multiple benefits for the public, communities, local authorities and the health service.”
Nusrat Ghani, MP and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Transport, said: “While many take for granted the ability to travel easily from A to B, access for the fifth of people who identify as disabled can be far from straightforward. We want disabled people to travel easily, confidently and without extra cost.”
Driving Mobility is regarded as the national voice of assisted driving and independence. This charity oversees twenty individual 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. Centres operate either as independent charities or within an NHS Trust. Across the UK seven of these centres now offer a more holistic approach to personal mobility information, assessment and advice.
Operating with Approved Driving Instructors, Occupational Therapists and professional transport advisors, the Hubs centres are:
- Cornwall Mobility Centre, Truro – South West
- East Anglian DriveAbility, Thetford – East Anglia
- Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People (QEF), Carshalton –
South London and Surrey
- Wessex Driveability, Southampton – Berkshire, Wiltshire, Hampshire, Dorset and IoW
- South East DriveAbility, Maidstone – South East
- RDAC, Birmingham – Greater Manchester and East Yorkshire
- North East Drive Mobility, Newcastle-upon-Tyne – North East
Driving Mobility is also running a similar pilot project in North East London, seeking to establish what is needed in the way of support for encouraging more outdoor mobility and combatting loneliness and social exclusion through guidance as to accessible transport options.
Edward continues: “Social prescription is a key strategy to combat isolation and depression through pro-actively linking elderly and disabled people with their community, family and friends. With greater mobility, people are less likely to need care-related support as lifestyles can be more rewarding and well-being is improved. With easier access to our knowledge, both transport users and operators can reduce risk and accidents with an enhanced travel experience for all. This is hugely significant in relation to reducing monetary pressures on the NHS and social care.”
Each centre has introduced an individualised range of services with a common goal – to provide transport advice, all in one location, for those who no longer use a private car. For example, Wessex DriveAbility based in Southampton, has focused on a digital platform, namely Goingcarfree.com. This website is easy to navigate and has been designed with accessibility in mind. Other centres have different approaches however all have been trained to identify signs of loneliness and how to mitigate social exclusion.
In terms of practical specifics, Driving Mobility hub centres can provide details regarding local bus, train and taxi operators in terms of accessibility, support services, fare concessions and staff assistance. Advice on assisted air travel is a particular speciality at QEF Carshalton through its Tryb4uFly service and assessment in relation to appropriate mobility products is now commonplace. Help with accessible locations and attractions can also be obtained along with awareness of useful local groups, charities and organisations.
Edward concludes: “We have now built upon our core driving assessment services to offer a truly holistic approach so that personal mobility continues after a driving licence is revoked or use of private car becomes unviable. No longer is there a need to search with the potential for confusion or misinterpretation, Driving Mobility Hub centres deliver a singular, concise resource, for greater clarity and ultimately easier accessible travel.”
Image: Helen Dolphin MBE, Chair of a regional Driving Mobility centre and leading accessible travel expert, is a strong advocate of the Hubs pilot project.