A typical day for an Approved Driving Instructor begins at 8:30 am and finishes at 16:30pm. It will consist of a morning and afternoon assessment starting at 10am and 13:00pm. The first task of the day will be to make coffee as the day’s runs more smoothly after caffeine! Following this, we view the Client’s referral details for morning and afternoon assessments to ascertain what requirements they may need and we prepare paperwork for this.
When the first Client arrives at 10am, they will be seen by the Approved driving Instructor (ADI) and an Occupational Therapist (OT). They will be invited through to a private room for a consultation which is led by the OT and involves confirmation of personal details (name, address etc). This is followed by further discussion to ascertain why the Client has attended for assessment and what difficulties, if any, they have in relation to driving.
The Client will be asked to complete a physical examination which merely tests matters such as strength, range of movement and co-ordination. As an ADI, I will be present during this consultation and from it the assessment team will begin to form an opinion of what adaptations the Client may need if there are any physical limitations.
Following a discussion regarding eye sight and when vision was last tested etc, it is likely that the OT will complete some paper based tests that screen for cognitive function. These tests may inform as to what domains in the brain may be affected through perhaps, stroke or dementia. The Client is given the opportunity to ask questions throughout and it is then time to prepare a suitable vehicle, which may feature manual or automatic transmission and may or may not be adapted.
As an ADI, I will complete normal checks on the vehicle, ie; damage, fuel and lights to confirm that it is roadworthy. Once the Client has completed an eyesight test, they will access the driving position and be afforded some time in a quiet area to familiarise with the vehicle. Having confirmed that the Client is satisfied that they have the ‘feel’ of the vehicle, then the assessment drive begins. Much of the terminology used is similar to that of a standard driving test; this is because it has been determined to be the most suitable method to be understood.
The route used is a standard route that is used for all Clients and covers 13 miles, lasting approximately 50 minutes. During the drive, I will be assessing faults in the normal way but where this assessment differs to a typical driving assessment is that we are only looking for faults that can be linked to a medical condition. This is rather difficult as sometimes there can be cross over and this is where an ADI’s instructional skills are required. Through discussion and coaching I can ascertain whether the Client is able to make change for the better or whether there is a deficit that cannot be changed. This will usually influence the assessment outcome which will typically be one of three decisions; safe to drive, unsafe to drive or might be safe to drive with tuition.
Having returned to the centre, the Client will be asked to take a seat whilst I discuss the drive with the OT. Between us we will use both professional disciplines to review and make a final decision as to what we will tell the Client.
The Client is then invited into a room for privacy and together, the OT and I will inform the Client as to the decision. They will be given the opportunity to ask questions which will help them understand our conclusion, particularly if our advice is negative. Once the Client has left the Centre, together, we will write a report for the Client or whoever has commissioned the report; this might be another NHS professional, DVLA, Motability or a solicitor/case manager. The last part of that assessment is to finalise little matters such as inputting data onto the Centres CRM system to enable the Department for Transport (DfT) to collect and analyse statistics.
The role of an ADI at RDAC is to work closely with individuals who require our knowledge and expertise about their driving ability. Our aim is to assist older and disabled people achieve a better quality of life through helping them to maintain or regain independent mobility as drivers.
It is a rewarding career and one that can bring great satisfaction from knowing that your efforts can help to improve people’s lives.