Project Onwards aims to create a service to help people affected by dementia through the transition of retiring from driving. After talking to people with dementia and their carers, we are beginning to get a feel for what would make this a successful transition. At the highest level, success would be when retiring from driving has no negative consequences on someone being able to live well with dementia and their ability to maintain their chosen lifestyle and activities.

We believe this is achievable.

Recent co-design sessions with people affected by dementia are allowing us to understand how a service might support this ambition. Ideas have been developed about how a service could:

  • Minimise stress and worry about the transition ahead for the person with dementia, but also for their family, friends and other carers;
  • Provide personalised support and advice;
  • Ensure people affected can remain informed and empowered throughout the transition;
  • Allow people to have a clearer understanding of where they are in the process (especially relevant when dealing with GPs and the DVLA) and have an idea of what is likely to happen next;
  • Encourage individuals with dementia and their families to plan and prepare for retirement from driving;
  • Make alternative modes easier for people to try for the first time and continue to use thereafter;
  • Build people’s confidence;
  • Ensure transport doesn’t become more expensive than when people previously travelled by car;
  • Support people to access the concessions and entitlements they are eligible for.

We have also used the co-design sessions to explore how best a service might be ‘deployed’ – what touchpoints and channels do the participants find it easier to use and more valuable to them? The main finding from this to date is that there must be multiple channels for people to access the service. While there certainly seems to be scope for some elements of the service to be online, we won’t be focusing on this solely. We have, for instance, seen the value of offering opportunities for group peer-to-peer and face-to-face conversations. This facilitates learning and builds confidence through sharing of experiences with others in a similar position.

Our next steps are to prototype some of the service ideas and elements and to test these with a group of people affected by dementia. This hands-on experience with the prototypes will ensure potential end-users of the service are heavily engaged in refining and developing the prototypes and the service.

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