Every day our advocates encounter an older person in need of helpful information to get them on their way to a better life. This is the story of Jack and Dianne…
A couple in their mid-70s contacted Advocare with a unique problem. Jack has mobility issues and recently had to surrender his driver’s licence after not passing the vision test.
He has borderline low vision but is still able to see clearly from eight metres so he’s been using his partner Dianne’s mobility scooter. As both are unable to drive, they either had to use transport services or taxis to get around or had to go out one at a time alone.
Jack and Dianne believed their quality of life would improve greatly if they both had their own mobility scooter so they could go out together.
Dianne explained to our Advocate they’d made a point of not using up Jack’s Home Care Package (HCP) funds so they could put it towards a scooter, just as they had done to buy Dianne’s.
She went on to explain they’d had a conversation with the HCP provider who said they shouldn’t apply as they would not be approved for the mobility scooter given Jack wasn’t able to pass the vision test for his driver’s licence. If they applied and were denied, would it be harder to overturn the decision?
Jack continued the conversation saying, I just want to be able to go out with my wife without needing someone to take us. I want to take her out for fish and chips like we used to, and we haven’t been able to do that this summer.” He believed his judgement was still sound, and that, although his vision was not good enough to pass his driver’s licence test, his vision was still sufficient to safely operate a mobility scooter.
Our Advocate agreed to call Jack and Dianne back the next working day following her research into vision impairment and mobility scooter use.
There was nothing in the HCP guidelines directly related to mobility scooters and vision, but then she stumbled across a mobility insurance company based in Western Australia. The information on the website made it clear mobility scooter users are considered pedestrians. This was the golden nugget. We all know people with vision impairment are not prevented from being pedestrians.
Further down the Google rabbit-hole our intrepid researcher came across an Australian study where 90 per cent of people with low vision were able to pass a mobility scooter test.
Jack was over the moon about what the Advocate had found and agreed to Advocare contacting Jack’s HCP provider via email, presenting this evidence. Together, Jack and the Advocate wrote the email that was sent to the service provider.
Less than two days later, we received a phone call from Jack letting the Advocate know the HCP provider had arranged for an Occupational Therapist to come out the following week.
Then two weeks after our Advocate received a phone call from an excited Dianne letting her know Jack’s purchase of a scooter had been approved and he’d have it by the end of the month.
Jack grabbed the phone from her and added: “You did it… I knew you would! The first thing we’re going to do is go and get fish and chips!”
Dianne thanked our Advocate too, and mentioned she hadn’t seen Jack this happy for years.
Jack and Dianne now have an improved quality of life because Jack was able to exercise his dignity of risk and received support to make a choice that could really make a difference.
With a bit of assistance, this little ditty about Jack and Dianne comes to an end but their independence has seen a welcome return.
Now when any of us see a couple on their scooter, we can’t help but think of Jack and Dianne and their fish and chips dates.
(Please note: Names have been changed for privacy).