#MyDrivingMobility Archives - Driving Mobility

Driving Mobility Centre of the Month – The William Merritt Centre

In this month’s ‘Driving Mobility Centre of the Month’ we take a look at the William Merritt Centre in Leeds

In this month’s ‘Driving Mobility Centre of the Month’ we take a look at the William Merritt Centre in Leeds

The William Merritt Centre (WMC) is a charity headed up by 9 trustees, the team is made up of 8 Occupational Therapists, 4 approved Driving Instructors, 1 Occupational Therapist Assistant, 5 support staff and a General Manager.

Their headquarters is in Leeds where they deliver assessments on all aspects of daily living, driving lessons and moving and handling courses for Healthcare Professionals in partnership with Back Exchange.

If you would like to take a tour of their centre, click this link: https://www.wmdlc.org/3d-tour-william-merritt-centre.

WMC also have a satellite Centres in York and Sheffield where they deliver driving assessments, passenger access assessments and driving lessons, we are hoping to expand our satellite Centre in Sheffield to also deliver PWMS (Powered Wheelchair & Mobility Scooter) assessments.

WMC was established 41 years ago during the ‘International Year of Disabled People’, and originally named as William Merritt Aids and Information Centre in memory of Councillor William Merritt. The Centre initially delivered assessments to assist in daily living including bathing, wheelchairs and walking aids.

In 1999 they introduced their driving assessment service to ensure safety and comfort for people when driving with a disability or medical condition.

Following on from that service’s success, they have also introduced:

Switches 4 Kidz (2007) which provides families and professionals with advice on adapted toys, switches and information on access to games consoles, computers, smart phones and tablets.

Tryb4uFly (2014) working in conjunction with QEF (Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People) to provide information and advice when flying with a disability.

Bugzi loan scheme (2015) with the help of MERU, offering a unique opportunity for pre-school children with disabilities to experience independent mobility, often for the first time in their lives.

Shopmobility service (2022) which provides the hire of scooters and powered/manual wheelchairs at the White Rose Centre as well as the Merrion Centre. This service enables people with limited mobility the opportunity to explore Leeds, contribute to the local economy and socialise with friends and family. Creating a platform for people to live independently.

This year the WMC team is very much looking forward to welcoming back their key partners and clients to their AccessAbility Exhibition in June, after having cancelled it 2 years in a row due to the covid-19 pandemic. The AccessAbility exhibition will showcase Assistive Technology, Equipment and Driving for disabled people of all ages, older people and healthcare professionals. You can find out more here: https://www.wmdlc.org/accessability-22-delegates

William Merritt Disabled Living Centre
Aire House, 100 Town Road, Rodley, Leeds, LS13 1HP

0113 350 8989
01133 508681
info@wmdlc.org
http://www.wmdlc.org

#MyDrivingMobility #DrivingAssessments #DisabledDrivers  #Leeds

 

Leeds AccessAbility returns to give independence to adults and children with disabilities

The William Merritt Centre, part of the Driving Mobility network, is delighted to announce the return of its AccessAbility exhibition so healthcare professionals and people with disabilities can discover the latest in adapted driving, assistive technology and mobility equipment.

The William Merritt Centre, part of the Driving Mobility network, is delighted to announce the return of its AccessAbility exhibition so healthcare professionals and people with disabilities can discover the latest in adapted driving, assistive technology and mobility equipment.

15th June 2022, Centenary Pavilion, Leeds United Football Club, LS11 0ES. 10.30am to 3:00pm.

The William Merritt Centre, also based in Leeds, is an independent charity accredited by Driving Mobility – a national charity supported by The Department for Transport. Driving Mobility co-ordinates over 20 centres, many with outreach facilities, that provide ‘fitness-to-drive’ and mobility equipment assessments. Clients self-refer or are signposted from the DVLA, Motability, Police and NHS.

AccessAbility will be a fully inclusive event, for all ages, and will include experiences such as:

  • Options and advice on assistive equipment – opportunities to try products which can enhance everyday life and enable greater independence.
  • All aspects of driving including vehicle adaptations, accessible vehicles and a test drive circuit with new and existing drivers in mind.
  • Chill out in the gaming area including advice on adaptations to enable everyone to access computers, mobile phones, tablets, toys and computer games.
  • Specialist seminars offering the latest education
  • Opportunities to speak to Occupational Therapists for personalised guidance.

AccessAbility will provide a rewarding and fulfilling day out for:

  • Children, teenagers and adults with disabilities (14 year+ for the drive test)
  • Parents and carers
  • Healthcare professionals
  • Older people
  • Approved Driving Instructors

It offers a unique opportunity to see and try a range of services for people with disabilities, all in one location.

Find out more here: https://www.wmdlc.org/accessability-22-delegates

Book your free ticket here: https://accessability22.eventbrite.co.uk

One Big Day, 17th September 2022 – Edinburgh

A Motability event where you can see the largest display of vehicles available on the Motability Scheme. It’s free to attend, with free parking and everyone’s welcome. Driving Mobility is delighted to be exhibiting and a team from DriveAbility Scotland will be showcasing our services.

One Big Day, 13th August 2022 – Harrogate

Motability’s event where you can see the largest display of vehicles available on the Motability Scheme. It’s free to attend, with free parking and everyone’s welcome. Driving Mobility is delighted to be exhibiting and a team from the William Merritt Centre in Leeds will be showcasing our services.

One Big Day, 23rd July 2022 – Exeter

Motability event, where you can see the largest display of vehicles available on the Motability Scheme. It’s free to attend, with free parking and everyone’s welcome. Driving Mobility is delighted to be exhibiting and a team from Cornwall Mobility will be showcasing our services.

Driving Mobility to showcase assessment services at Motability’s The Big Event

Your opportunity to put questions, about all aspects of adapted driving, to several Driving Mobility advisors who will be available on a live chat throughout the event.

The national charity Driving Mobility, which accredits a network of driving and mobility assessment centres, will be exhibiting at Motability’s virtual ‘The Big Event’ on 6th and 7th August.

https://thebigevent.motability.co.uk/

Free to attend, The Big Event from Motability will be online this year and provides a unique opportunity to discover the latest options for accessible driving and personal mobility. The event will showcase over 25 car manufacturers, 20 WAV (wheelchair accessible vehicle) and adaptation suppliers, and 10 powered wheelchair and mobility scooter manufacturers – all providing solutions available through the Motability leasing scheme. Motability provides the opportunity for people with restricted mobility to assign some of their Personal Independence Payments towards leasing of an adapted vehicle or scooter. Alongside manufacturers, the virtual event will also provide access to specialist speakers sessions, Motability advisors and specialists service providers such as Driving Mobility.

Supported by The Department for Transport, there are 21 Driving Mobility centres with over 70 outreach facilities across the UK. These centres include independent charities and NHS centres which offer professional information and assessment so disabled and elderly people can gain or retain independence. Clinical guidance, from Occupational Therapists and Approved Driving Instructors, provide recommendations regarding fitness to drive, vehicle adaptations, alternatives to driving and driving tuition. Details regarding these services and more will be available on the Driving Mobility stand at The Big Event.

There will also be the opportunity to put questions, about all aspects of adapted driving, to several Driving Mobility advisors who will be available on a live chat throughout the event. An introductory video to charity services and what benefits they offer will be on the stand along with downloadable information.

#MyDrivingMobility #DrivingAssessments #DisabledDrivers #Disabilities 

 

Ella beats amputation to drive once more with Driving Mobility support

Ella Dove, 30 from East London, has achieved motoring independence once again after experiencing a leg amputation due to a freak running accident – made possible by Driving Mobility.

Ella Dove, 30 from East London, has achieved motoring independence once again after experiencing a leg amputation due to a freak running accident – made possible by Driving Mobility.

Ella qualified to drive a manual car when she was 18 and drove for a few years. However, she moved to London in 2014 and decided not to take her car as it was easier to use public transport in the capital. Ella’s car remained at her parent’s house. In 2016 Ella unfortunately experienced a freak accident whilst running which involved a trip and fall. She fractured and dislocated her knee so badly the circulation to her foot was severed which finally resulted in a right leg amputation below the knee. Ella did not drive for six years until she was guided back to adapted motoring by Driving Mobility.

As Ella lives in Stratford, she decided to contact the Driving Mobility centre nearest to her at Harlow (a satellite centre for Herts Ability in Welwyn Garden City). This centre is one of 20 Driving Mobility centres across England and Wales which are supported by 70 outreach facilities. They provide clinically led, driving and mobility assessments so individuals can gain or maintain personal independence through appropriate adapted vehicles, mobility scooters, wheelchair or accessible transport. Driving Mobility centres are operated by independent charities or NHS departments – all accredited by the national charity Driving Mobility. Service users can self-refer or are signposted from the DVLA, Motability, Police and the NHS.

As Ella’s physical abilities had changed, her driving licence was put on hold by the DVLA. Hence, she was advised to seek a professional driving assessment so that official recommendations could be gathered and an appropriate solution to independence could be concluded.

Ella spoke to an advisor representing Driving Mobility who initially assessed her needs and organised an appointment with their team at Welwyn Garden City. Ella attended the centre for a driving assessment in one of their automatic vehicles. Ella explains: “I was initially quite nervous, but I really enjoyed the experience and definitely felt myself progressing in confidence and ability as the session went on. The private Driving Mobility test drive course in Harlow is a fantastic idea and a great way to ease back into driving again. I had not been behind the wheel for six years so this reassured me…  especially when driving for the first time just using my left foot for acceleration and braking.”

Ella adds: “The fact that the Driving Mobility team were so supportive massively helped me. I wouldn’t describe myself as a confident driver to start with; I’ve always been quite cautious behind the wheel, so I did feel myself gripping the wheel quite tightly and moving like a snail to start with during the assessment. However, I discovered that my road sense was still there, which was comforting, and driving didn’t feel as alien as I thought it would. By the end of the assessment in the automatic car, I was really enjoying myself and left feeling very proud – it was an enormous milestone for me!”

Following her driving assessment, Driving Mobility concluded Ella was safe and competent to drive an automatic car. This was amazing news to Ella and was a significant result for her confidence and independence. She received her driving licence back from the DVLA with the all-clear to drive a non-manual car with adapted pedals. In conclusion, she offers this advice: “I’d say have courage. Confidence for me is the biggest barrier. So, it was more a psychological push to get myself back behind the wheel than a logistical one. Getting used to an automatic, especially with specialist pedals and using my left foot for everything hasn’t been easy, but the more I do it, the more confident I become. So, go for it! Don’t let fear hold you back!”

 

#MyDrivingMobility

‘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 – 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.

#MyDrivingMobility

Driving Mobility assessments reopen to safely support disabled drivers

Driving Mobility assessment centres reopening services with Covid-19 safety measures so drivers can once again receive expert guidance regarding assisted motoring.

Driving Mobility, the charity that accredits a network of specialist driving assessment centres, is reopening its UK services with Covid-19 safety measures so drivers can once again receive expert guidance regarding assisted motoring.

Driving Mobility Centres provide professional, clinically-led driving and mobility assessments for individuals who have restricted mobility. 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 the service close to where people live, and which are managed by independent charities or NHS departments – all focused on helping people with disabilities or life changing diagnosis to continue driving safely. Since the lockdown in March, Driving Mobility assessment appointments have been suspended following guidance from the Government. However, from the 6th July, Centres will be reintroducing services with a phased approach so that clients and staff remain safe from coronavirus.

Edward Trewhella, CEO, Driving Mobility, comments: “Every centre is preparing to reopen for safe driving assessments. All our staff are keen to get going and have been busy organising new procedures in terms of Covid-19. Our Approved Driving Instructors and Occupational Therapists will be fully observing Government guidelines and NHS clinical principles, so clients experience a rewarding driving assessment that focuses on a positive outcome. We have a backlog of enquiries which will be resolved as quickly as possible and our teams are ready for new stakeholder referrals to begin once more.”

Members of the public, as clients, will need to be in a vehicle with Driving Mobility assessors, and this will involve several new procedures to reduce risk. These will include the use of PPE and hand sanitiser, thorough disinfecting of vehicles, open windows at all times and limited close personal contact. Use of assessment rooms and waiting areas will all be adjusted in accordance with advice from Public Health England.

Edward continues: “We believe our services are now more vital than ever before in terms of supporting peoples’ independence. With current advice to avoid public transport where necessary and to take extra precautions if you have underlying health conditions, the ability to drive a car independently with a disability has great significance for mental health and wellbeing. Our Centres also provide assessments and guidance on solutions for mobility that facilitate social distancing, such as powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters. These comprehensive services which encompass all aspects of accessible travel, provide the key to many who have been unable to leave home in an appropriate and safe manner.

Edward concludes: “Driving Mobility is the national voice of assisted driving and independence – now is the time this will be even more pronounced.”