NWDAS expands Liverpool driving assessment provision with new community Fire Station Outreach Services
The North West Driving Assessment Service (NWDAS) based in St Helens, Merseyside, has launched two new outreach schemes at community fire stations in Liverpool
The North West Driving Assessment Service (NWDAS) based in St Helens, Merseyside, has launched two new outreach schemes at community fire stations in Liverpool, enabling increased access to driving and adaptation assessments alongside home fire safety guidance.
With a team of Occupational Therapists and Approved Driving Instructors, NWDAS is delivered by Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (Bridgewater) and overseen by the charity, Driving 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.
Following the success of a recently launched outreach scheme in Leyland, Lancashire, NWDAS is now officially offering independent driving and adaptation assessments at Netherton and Crosby Fire Station and Bellevale Fire Station, both in Liverpool. As part of this new arrangement, NWDAS clients visiting the two new Merseyside services will be able to access free home fire safety guidance combined with advice about how to stay safe and well at home.
Rebecca Jones, NWDAS Team Leader, comments: “We are proud to have a strong working relationship with partner organisations in local communities and by locating our services within community fire stations we can become even more accessible to the public. The two additional Merseyside locations will provide a reduction in travel time for many people living in the region. Outreach locations not only provide a greater choice of venue but increase availability for assessment appointments as well, which we hope will encourage more people to seek professional driving information and gain specialist advice.”
Rebecca concludes: “As with all Driving Mobility Centres, we always endeavour to ensure the provision of high-quality services and information, and we are delighted to be linking our assessments with an opportunity for clients to gain valuable fire safety advice.”
Assessments are free when referred by healthcare professionals, the DVLA and Motability. Alternatively, individuals can make a self-referral to the service via the main centre in Haydock, at a cost of £50.
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.
Pictured: Hilary Kay, Specialist Occupational Therapist and Martin Vivers Approved Driving Instructor
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!”