I was recently invited to the North Wales Mobility and Driving Assessment Service for a day before going into too much detail; I would like to introduce the North Wales Mobility and Driver Assessment Service, one of several Mobility Assessment Centres around the UK, which is a registered charity funded by the Welsh Government, their aim is to offer impartial and professional advice that will enable people who are elderly or have a disability to achieve their optimum level of independent outdoor mobility, The Centre is Motability accredited, DVLA approved and a member of the Forum of Assessment Centres UK.
They offer both driver and passenger assessments that aim to provide the clients with long-term mobility solutions. All Assessments are conducted by suitably qualified members of staff and are treated confidentially.
Following assessment clients are provided with the necessary relevant information and a written report of their findings and recommendations. Clients may decide to use their report as evidence of their ability when informing DVLA or insurance companies of medical history.
The driver assessment is NOT A DRIVING TEST; the aim of the assessment is to evaluate the physical and cognitive ability of the individual to drive a motor vehicle safely and comfortably.
For clients who experience physical disability, the Centre has a wide range of adapted vehicles that can be tailored to individuals’ specific requirements. Should more sophisticated, high-tech vehicle adaptations be required, the Centre may be able to arrange a practical driving assessment in a suitably adapted vehicle.
Clients who experience neurological and cognitive disorders, the Centre’s offer expert assessment of their ability, consideration is given to the individual’s cognitive abilities at a practical level. During an assessment drive, they explore the client’s concentration, perceptual and decision making abilities, all of which are necessary skills to ensure safe driving.
For clients who are experiencing difficulties with access to and from a vehicle, the Centre has a wide range of equipment that may reduce or eliminate the physical effort involved during transfers. This assessment explores safe transfers and traveling needs, vehicle suitability and equipment options and stowage.
The Centre offers free information and advice service and can advise on a range of issues, including DVLA legislation, Motability Scheme driver tuition, Vehicle adaptation companies, grant funding schemes and much more. You ask the question, they will do their best to find the answer.
Reason for contacting the Centre;
- To determine your ability to drive a motor vehicle.
- For current, impartial information and advice on vehicle choice and adaptation.
- For driving instructors who have clients with Disability or SEN.
If you have a client or you are a driverexperiencing difficulty with the following:
- Physical or cognitive fatigue
- Vehicle entry and exit
- Stowage of equipment, such as wheelchairs scooters etc.
- Disability or special educational needs , learning to drive
I’m in the fortunate or unfortunate position of being in a triangle of three assessment centres North Wales, Derby and Birmingham. I have previously visited Derby DrivAbility and North Wales satellite centrein Newtown this would my first visit to the Glan Clwyd Hospital Bodelwyddan. Although a long drive I arrived looking forward to the day.
The day started with introductions Gary Jones ADI Centre Manager, Louise Barr Admin, Chris Jones ADI, and Caroline Holt ADI. After a quick Health and Safety briefing, then on to an informal chat with the two ADI’s who would be conducting today’s assessment over coffee, and Licence checks. It was very rewarding being able to discuss and exchange ideas with likeminded ADI’s who work in the same sector of driver training as myself. CJ explained he needed to finish a report so asked, CH to show me around the Centre and its extensive range of vehicles 11, ranging from small and medium saloons, MPV’s and WAV’s (wheelchair accessible vehicles) different vehicles were setup in varying ways standard automatic, push pull, left foot accelerator, over ring/radial electronic accelerators, infrared secondary controls. Hoists from lifting wheel chairs and scooters, ramps for WAV’s
After a short break CJ & CH took me out in a Nissan Note fitted with Elap over ring/radial accelerator with push brake, for a short assessment drive similar to they would do on an assessment, it was interesting controlling the vehicle in two different ways one problem was I found it most difficult to maintain acceleration while turning the wheel with the over ring, although operation was very light , a similar problem with the radial accelerator that unlike the standard push/pull if you maintained acceleration while braking the system cut power to the accelerator until the brake was reapplied without gas this caught me out a couple of times.
Even though I had some initial problems with both types I can see the benefit for some clients, during the drive I noticed even as an experienced driver with adapted controls using a different set for the first time you do forget the odd mirror check and speed limit.
After a short debrief we parted for lunch and to allow CJ & CH time to discuss their client’s assessment, it also gave me an opportunity to make some notes. After lunch before the assessment I was required to sign a non-disclosure agreement so I cannot refer to the client in detail.
During the assessment watching the two ADI’s work together was very interesting the Q&A was thorough but sensitive and professional, you could see that CJ has more experience in this field his manner was effective and he allowed CH to conduct most of the Q&A she was also professional and empathetic CH technique differs slightly from CJ. Both ADI’s were professional throughout.
The Client X was asked for their hopes and expectations the assessment would bring, X was typically worried about being told Independent drivingwould no longer be an option. Spinal Surgery had initially left X with quadriplegia but with physiotherapy X had improved now having use of the right arm and leg, limited use of left arm hand no viable use of left leg. X now presenting left sided hemiplegia, enabling the use of a vehicle with automatic transmission fitted with steering aid plus possibly parking brake adaptation, with gear selector adaptation or choosing a vehicle without transmission lock button. Client could also consider secondary controls.
After the initial assessment in the Centre we moved on to the on road session, the client was introduced to the vehicle and controls and after getting used to the vehicle on the hospital grounds they were taken out onto public roads the usual exercises were carried out including controlled stop and then back to the Centre, the staff had a discussion with the client about their thoughts and possible plan forward after which the staff need to prepare a report on this occasion this would go to the client because they had self-referred, although they would be required to inform DVLA and insurers of their disability and any adaptation required.
As an observer I didn’t take any verbal part while the client was present, but while the client was out of the room, both instructors included me in their discussions and asked for my assessment of the client and for my training recommendations, and because of the confidentiality, I can only tell you that the client with some small adjustment to vehicle and their driving style, and with some training should be able to drive again.
It was a long drive there and back but it was well worth it, I found the day rewarding I felt that I learned quite a lot during the day, giving me an insight into their much undervalued work, most people and ADI’s don’t want to go to an assessment centre or have a DVLA assessment but if you do visit I’m sure you won’t feel the same after.
DSA ADI MIAM RoADA