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.”
Driving Mobility’s RDAC Salford assessment centre opens up assistive driving opportunities for Paula
Salford’s RDAC has given powerchair user Paula Taylor from Bolton the route to complete driving independence through its specialist assessment and advice service.
As one of the UK-wide Driving Mobility assessment centres, Salford’s RDAC has given powerchair user Paula Taylor from Bolton the route to complete driving independence through its specialist assessment and advice service.
Charity Driving Mobility, supported by the Department for Transport, accredits twenty independent organisations which offer professional driving assessments to people who need to gain, or retain, the ability to drive following a diagnosis involving impairment or disability. Service users can self-refer or are signposted by the DVLA, Motability, Police and healthcare professionals such as GPs. The new, custom-built RDAC centre in Salford advises Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Cheshire drivers, passengers, motorcyclists, mobility scooter and wheelchair users on independence mobility.
Paula, aged 46, has driven the same adapted vehicle since a car accident in 2001 which caused a progressive decline in health and mobility. Following injections in 2003 to treat Fibromyalgia, she became paralysed from the neck down and spent a year recuperating in hospital. Paula was subsequently diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), a debilitating complex pain condition in her limbs. Now a full-time wheelchair user, Paula’s needs have recently changed and she finds unaided transfers into her car particularly difficult. Having first visited a Driving Mobility centre fifteen years ago, she decided to arrange another assessment at RDAC Salford in preparation for a new vehicle purchase. Paula wanted to ascertain that she was still using the most suitable adaptations and which controls would fit her new vehicle.
Paula comments: “Following my time in hospital, I became very depressed as I needed help with everything. I knew something had to change and my first Driving Mobility assessment in 2004 was incredibly helpful. In fact, I have used the recommended adjustable floor-mounted hand control ever since. I now have a more limited range of movement and a PA visits during the week to assist me – but I’m determined not to lose my driving independence, especially with five children and seven grandchildren. As I wanted to thoroughly research all my options, I contacted RDAC who have been really helpful.”
Following an update regarding Paula’s medical history and a cognitive assessment, Sean Barratt, RDAC Centre Manager, suggested Paula trial various new hand controls to operate the brakes and accelerator, as well as steering wheel rim controllers. However, as Paula found them unmanageable over extended periods of driving time, Sean subsequently recommended she updated her current controls to a Carospeed Menox. This can be installed in most vehicles and is highly adjustable to suit individual requirements. Sean also recommended a steering wheel ball and pedal adaptations to enable Paula to be more comfortable in the car.
Paula concludes: “To be able to talk to a specialist about individual needs and receive impartial advice is so reassuring. I discovered exactly what I needed, and I was delighted that all the adaptation recommendations were suitable for any vehicle. I’m grateful to the Centre staff for also spending time trying to establish which new vehicle would be best for me. They considered transfer requirements and which car could cater for my hoist and powerchair. Following my assessment, I have ordered a new accessible vehicle which fits me like a glove and is so easy to transfer into. The hands-on information that people can receive from Driving Mobility centres is unparalleled. I certainly know where to go next time I need advice!”