The motto of Driving Miss Daisy is “We’re family when family can’t be there”. I wholeheartedly agree after spending a day with one of their excellent drivers. I visited the Solent East branch (also the Client Services Centre) which processes all calls and requests for information.
Most of you will remember the 1989 film ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ but this franchise organisation is an international brand established in New Zealand and Canada offering a unique service which provides more than a lift to the shops! Operational in the UK since 2015 there are just over 30 service centres here and growing by the day!
Silver Travel Advisor works in partnership with Driving MissDaisy awarding them ‘Highly Commended’ in the Silver-i Award for 2019 celebrating the service which they offer for older people.
There are a variety of different reasons why people choose to use Driving Miss Daisy, ranging from day-to-day and essential trips such as attending a doctor’s appointment or food shopping, to fulfilling a dream holiday!
Whether it is a day trip to a local area or somewhere further afield, Driving Miss Daisy will plan the entire itinerary including entrance fees and you can choose to travel solo or bring a friend.
It could be you are no longer able to drive and prefer having a companion to accompany you rather than use a taxi plus you may not wish to rely on family. Other scenarios include being invited to a social event such as a wedding that is too far away for anyone to give you a lift or mobility issues prevent the use of public transport, but it could be that you just want some company! Of course there are more sombre occasions such as funerals, but the beauty of Driving Miss Daisy is that you can be accompanied, giving peace of mind as well as companionship and support.
During my ‘Day in the life of Driving Miss Daisy’ I met my driver Phil who has been with them for just over a year. Phil has a varied background from the army, police force and has even worked for a titled family as a chauffeur! After only a few minutes in his company it became obvious how passionate and committed he is as a Driving Miss Daisy driver and companion. All drivers have to undergo training and CRB checks – Phil proudly spoke of the courses he has undertaken: First Aid, Health & Safety, MIDAS (driving course) and the all-important Dementia Awareness course.
His love of being with people from all walks of life and of any age was particularly apparent. Phil demonstrated all the qualities needed for this often demanding role – patience, understanding, a genuine caring attitude not to mention being an excellent driver of course.
His motto is “there is never a problem as there will always be a solution!” One particular trip he enjoyed was taking a 96 year old to a school reunion on the Isle of Wight. He gets satisfaction from being able to help and making a difference to peoples’ lives.
The first client I met had early onset dementia but was still able to live independently. Phil was not only driving her to a dental check-up, but had also been asked by her family to physically accompany her into the treatment room.
The next client I met was Eve – a young at heart lady in her mid 80s. Sadly Eve suffers from osteoporosis and needs a wheelchair most of the time. Eve has used Driving Miss Daisy for 2 years and much prefers having a regular driver as they are already aware of her mobility limitations having taken her to previous appointments.
Phil’s task was to take Eve to the opticians for an eye test and then return her to the comfort of her warden assisted flat. Eve was extremely positive about the Driving Miss Daisy service – the trust, care and consideration shown were all very important to her as well as feeling secure.
After my day on the road getting a snapshot of the Driving Miss Daisy service, I had the pleasure of meeting Peter, who is one of their star clients! Peter’s life has been transformed after getting a Driving Miss Daisy flyer put through his door a few years ago, and a year after his beloved wife Pauline passed away. Following a motorbike accident in his youth Peter lost the sight of one eye and now has mobility issues using a variety of aids to help him including a walking stick, rollator and wheelchair depending on the situation. Peter has been given a new lease of life since travelling with Driving Miss Daisy which has given him the confidence to plan more complicated and adventurous trips including one to witness a Spaceship launch in Houston!
To date Peter, aged 81, has undertaken numerous outings with Driving Miss Daisy including the Kew Bridge Steam museum and a 2-night stay in York to visit the National Railway. A 3-night stay for the Eden Project is a future trip. He loves the fact that Driving Miss Daisy arrange everything – all he has to do is name the place he wishes to visit and then confirm the proposed arrangements and pay!
Driving Miss Daisy will book any additional transport needed, as well as hotel accommodation and they will source the best places to eat or to take a comfort break according to the requirements of the client.
One of the many joys Peter enthuses about using this exceptional service is that he has companionship, whether it be during a museum visit or enjoying conversation over dinner. This is something many older people miss especially after a bereavement. You can also share the cost of a trip with a friend or relative or travel as a small group.
Peter is so enthusiastic about Driving Miss Daisy that he has given a talk about the benefits of the service and sings their praises on how it has transformed his life – he also features in a short film on their website.
In this time of increasing social need and the desire to remain independent, Driving Miss Daisy makes a dramatic difference to peoples’ lives allowing them to live life to the full and realise their dreams.
For more information call 0333 014 6211 or visit www.drivingmissdaisy.co.uk.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Driving Miss Daisy.