I had my driving assessment today at the William Merritt centre in Leeds and I thought I would blog about the experience to hopefully give people in similar situations a sense of what to expect.
I have recently started up driving lessons again through the Motability grant scheme and BSM. I have been trying to use what is called the push pull mechanism in my driving instructor’s car, but it has been quite painful. So my driving instructor suggested I contact Motability to find more appropriate adaptations. So Motability set up an appointment at my nearest disabled living centre, so I could speak to experts.
When I arrived at my destination, the William Merritt centre on Town Street in Leeds, I had a short wait before my appointment. I was so nervous my hands were shaking. Usually at these kinds of assessments there is an occupational therapist and a driving instructor present. I was asked if a trainee could sit in, but I didn’t mind whatsoever.
We went into a private room to discuss my conditions and how they physically effect my body. This is so they would know what adaptations would be best for me. I have to say they were incredibly patient and knowledgeable in this area. We were talking about issues that I find quite embarrassing, and yet it didn’t make any of them bat an eyelid. They were sympathetic, understanding and eager to help.
It was at this point that it dawned on me that they genuinely cared. This wasn’t an interview and I didn’t need to feel like I had to impress anyone. As the assessment progressed, I began to feel more and more at ease with them. I hope if you are nervous about your assessment, this reassures you.
I recommend that you try to disclose all physical/medical problems you have, just because things that might not seem important can be a potential problem whilst driving, and could be accommodated for in advance. I think that is why the next part of the assessment is crucial.
We then went outside so that I could drive their adapted vehicle. This was to see how I coped with their suggested method of hand controls. We had to see if I came across any problems whilst driving. Whether twisting was an issue, whether I could operate the hand break comfortably, whether I could use the steering wheel accelerator or the push break effectively. But most crucially for me, whether I could do it all without increasing my pain.
To say I was apprehensive to drive again is a massive understatement, but the encouragement, support and advice I received whilst driving their vehicle was incredible. Disability has the capacity to take away your confidence, but the Motability scheme and places like the William Merritt Centre are actively working to give you back that confidence and help you find your independence again.
I am extremely grateful for the fantastic experience I had today. Everything was so smooth, from the incredibly well equipped disabled toilets, to the receptionist who tried to accommodate my needs whilst I was filling out the forms etc. I left with a sense of achievement (and a beetroot red face from being so nervous) but mainly a sense of achievement!
Tips for people going for their assessment:
* Wear comfortable clothes and shoes to drive in.
* Bring medication in case your pain increases for any reason
* Know your national insurance number or bring it with you.
* Bring your driving licence.
* Write down any questions in advance if you have any.
* Relax! I know for many of us things like this can feel like such a huge step but there are people out there to help you make it.
Until the next one,
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