Derby DrivAbility, a part of the Driving Mobility network, created the perfect opportunity for members of the public and healthcare professionals to not only ask questions but to see and experience the latest solutions available during their free Mobility event….and the sunshine was the ‘icing on the cake’.
The team at DrivAbility’s specialist NHS service (which primarily helps people, usually diagnosed with an impairment or disability, begin or continue to drive) is an effective, knowledgeable and professional driving assessment centre, and MotaClarity went along to their open day on Tuesday 14 June 2022 to find out more about driving with a disability and the services that the team at Derby DrivAbility offer.
On arrival, we were guided by helpers so we could park easily, then warmly welcomed by the team at the entrance gate that was surrounded by balloons to register. The atmosphere inside and out was relaxed and friendly with appropriate COVID-19 safety measures in place. Everyone’s attention was completely focused on what’s possible for the needs of visitors themselves, their family members and patients.
Meeting the DrivAbility team face to face you quickly realise they have the perfect blend of a ‘can do’ attitude mixed with the in-depth knowledge of innovative engineering solutions and professional medical expertise. Thanks to them, the world of motoring opens up for many individuals and families who maybe felt it was impossible because of their illness, disability or mobility issue.
Visitors, staff and the exhibitors we spoke to all felt the open day was essential to demonstrate what is possible and the wide range of choices available.
Martin at WAV specialist Brotherwood told us:
“Carers or family members often think they can manage by themselves getting someone into and out of a vehicle or they feel they don’t want to bother anyone for help. Events like this are important to show what is available to make their life easier and less uncomfortable.”
The benefits to residents in the East Midlands who discover their local Driving Mobility service means people can talk through their needs, concerns or questions, helping them to realise it may actually be possible to learn to drive for the first time (or all over again).
The DrivAbility Derby Team reassure people who use their service that it doesn’t have to be difficult or scary, and there is guidance and support all along the way.
One member of the Derby DrivAbility team told us:
“We run these open days so that people can come down to find out about us and the more who know about this service the better.”
The open day event was complemented with a display of mobility and motoring accessibility related products and professional services. A great selection of new Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs) were on show, including one of the first 100% full electric WAVs which also featured an optional electric rotating front passenger seat available to demonstrate. A choice of specialist driving controls and adaptation equipment could also be tried out, including those suitable for passengers as well as drivers to help make everyone’s journey more comfortable.
There were plenty of industry experts on hand providing useful information and advice including from The Windmill Special Needs Company who supply specialist car seats for children with additional needs, scooter and wheelchair hire help from Shopmobility, boot hoists and mobility scooter transportation advice, ingenious wheelchair stowage solutions to try plus the exciting opportunity to cycle on a selection of specially adapted bikes from Cycle Derby, including ‘companion’ bikes designed so that two people can enjoy a ride out together.
With a huge range of mobility solutions to look over and ask questions about all in one place the event created possibilities, opened eyes and brought lots of smiles to the faces of everyone in attendance.
The Derby DrivAbility team - which is part of the University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust - is an accredited Driving Mobility centre, employing occupational Therapists (OTs) and Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs) to provide driving and passenger assessments.
The surrounding community can access this medical-driving crossover service by referring themselves or through being referred via the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), Motability, the NHS or perhaps a case manager.
In addition to the team from Derby DrivAbility, some of the fantastic exhibitors on the day included:
Autochair – demonstrating their new removable seat option for folding or rigid seat mobility scooters, person lifting equipment and mobility scooter hoist systems.
Volta Mobility – displaying their new Vauxhall Vivaro-e WAV (which is now available to lease through the Motability Scheme).
Brotherwood – with their luxury Toyota Proace, which has excellent wheelchair passenger room and extra headspace for taller wheelchair users.
Steering Developments - demonstrated the Abi Loader which is a wheelchair stowage system that automatically loads the wheelchair from the drivers door into the rear of an SUV or estate car using a remote control.
Des Gosling – well known in Derbyshire for providing excellent driving adaptation solutions.
Everyone involved in the DrivAbility Event wanted to help local people find the perfect driving or passenger solution for them, and it was a pleasure to attend on behalf of MotaClarity.
We look forward to visiting again in 2023!
Images provided courtesy of Michelle Breffitt and iDIS Creative Marketing Agency.