Adding life to years
Text size:

Surf Coast Shire Wiser Driver Course


Surf Coast Shire Wiser Driver Course

Summary

Surf Coast Shire Wiser Driver Courses are face-to-face interactive courses that are conducted for two hours each week over a four week period. They are delivered through a collaboration between Surf Coast Shire Council, ACCESS Health and Community and VicRoads. These courses are targeted to people between the ages of 65 and 90 years and provide up-to-date information on current Victorian Road Rules; opportunities to address any concerns participants might have about driving in a safe and non-threatening space; encourage participants to think about changes in their fitness or health that may impact on their driving and foster an awareness of safer driving habits whilst increasing insight into driver skills and abilities.

The uptake of these courses has been phenomenal. The outcomes are widespread, not only in terms of encouraging safer driving; but in supporting individuals to remain as independent as possible for as long as possible in their communities. The courses enhance social engagement and participation and increase the capacity to create connections and opportunities within the community. Older people can be very fearful of having their driver’s license taken away from them – an important lesson learned has been to effectively communicate the aims of these courses so that these fears are allayed. Also, positive word of mouth experiences from participants is key to success. The Wiser Driver Courses have become a key component of our Age Friendly Strategy and Surf Coast Shire Council has committed to providing ongoing support and resources to ensure the courses are as accessible as possible across all the towns in our community. The Wiser Driver Course is a catalyst for behaviour change and addresses current and future aspects of driver safety.

Website: https://www.surfcoast.vic.gov.au/Community/Over-55s

Key facts

Main target group: Older people in general

Sector(s): Education, Transportation

Desired outcome for older people:
Be mobile

Other issues the Age-friendly practice aims to address:
  • Ageism
  • Accessibility
  • Ageing in place
  • Healthy behaviours (e.g. physical activity)
  • Inclusion
  • Participation

Contact details

Name: Rose Salvo

Email address: rsalvo@surfcoast.vic.gov.au


Age-friendly practice in detail (click to expand):

Engaging the wider community

Project lead: Local authorities

Others involved in the project:
  • Older People’s Association
  • Social or health care provider

How collaboration worked: VicRoads, a department of the Victorian State Government provide partial funding for the courses. Access Health and Community has a Mobility Education Coordinator who has the responsibility of applying to VicRoads for funding and is the primary contact for managing the successful delivery of these courses. Access Health and Community provide the course tutors and summarised course evaluation feedback (raw data). The Coordinator works closely with the Surf Coast Shire Age Friendly Officer from the initial booking of the course through to course completion to resolve any issues and to maximise marketing and course participation. Surf Coast Shire Council as the course host is responsible for advertising the course within the local community; taking course registrations directly from participants; providing course facilities; printing supporting course material; sourcing VicRoads Road to Solo Driving Handbooks and relevant handouts and for providing catering to participants. The Access Health and Community Coordinator, Tutor and the Surf Coast Shire Council Age Friendly Officer work closely together to ensure the courses are successfully run. Between June 2021 and July 2022, 13 face-to-face courses were provided to the Surf Coast community.

Older people’s involvement: Older people were involved in the age-friendly practice at multiple or all stages

Details on older people’s involvement: Surf Coast Shire Council’s Positive Ageing Advisory Committee supported the initiative from its inception and provided feedback to the Age Friendly Officer, particularly regarding marketing strategies. The course tutor is an older person with years of experience in delivering this course and is therefore relatable to the target cohort. People aged 65 and above are the course participants.

Moving forward

Has the impact of this age-friendly practice been analysed: Yes

Was the impact positive or negative:
Positive

Please share with us what you found in detail:
At the conclusion of each course, participants are requested to complete an evaluation form. The evaluation questions cover expectations and benefits of the course, tutor rating as well as questions related to future behaviour change. All reviews has been overwhelmingly positive. In terms of future behaviours/behaviour changes: 36% participants said they would enrol in an on-road Driver Refresher Course 16% said they would speak to their doctor about driving 14% said they would report a medical condition to VicRoads 56% said they would look up VicRoads on-line videos and websites 76% said they would discuss this course with family/friends 15% said they would use alternative transport options 74% said they would refer to VicRoads Driver Handbooks 39% said they would take time to plan safer driving routes 34.5% said they would plan for when they no longer drive 56% said they would consider vehicle safety features if buying a new or used car

Evaluation report: Wiser-Driver-Courses-Evaluation-Summary-Report-GNAFCC-Submission.pdf

Feedback:
All feedback from the target group, families and community members has been positive. It is worth noting that the course has not needed to be advertised since the first two courses were delivered – word of mouth has ensured that individuals make regular contact with the Age Friendly Officer to place their names on future course waiting lists.

Expansion plans:
Surf Coast Shire Council has committed to funding 4 Wiser Driver Courses annually in addition to the courses funded by VicRoads. This will allow more-placed based course opportunities for participants, particularly those communities that are impacted by isolation and distance. Furthermore, the courses will be expanded to include a “Wiser Walker Safer Scooter” Course and a “Wiser Walker Wiser Traveller” Course – these courses ensure that all mobility options will catered for, whether it be a mobility scooter or using public transport – people can feel confident in knowing they will continue to be supported with information and experiential education regarding their mobility options when they are no longer able to drive.

Looking back

Reflections:
The fear many older people have about losing their agency in relation to retaining their driving license is very important to be aware of and to navigate with respect and understanding. Course information needs to be very clear from the outset – this is not a practical driving course, participants are not required to bring their vehicles or to sit a test; this is a safe space where at the conclusion of the course, participants can make an informed decision as to whether they should revisit their driving capacity. It is important however, that aged care supports are accessible if necessary – there were some participants who were unable to commence or complete the courses at times due to cognitive impairment. It was very useful to have Council’s Regional Assessment Team on hand to support these individuals when necessary. Concerned family may also make contact regarding a family member’s driving capacity – it is important to have the appropriate information and resources available to support these family members. Follow Up: For future courses, it would be very valuable to embed a follow up process at 3 months post-course to further determine/evaluate the impact of the courses and any associated behavior change.

Challenges:
• Slow uptake of the first course because of people’s misunderstanding of the course aims. Most people thought it was an underhanded way of removing licenses. Advertising and communication is very important and having a facilitator that is knowledgeable and relatable makes all the difference. Consistent communication, both verbal, via email and in the print media with all local community groups about the aims of the course and what it entailed was pivotal in increasing registrations. • Tailoring the marketing to each community/town – ensuring that trusted place-based community groups support the program. For example in the coastal township of Lorne where uptake of the course was initially limited, the course reached full capacity after the Committee for Lorne supported it in their weekly newsletter. In the small hinterland town of Winchelsea, ensuring the local Probus Club supported the course resulted in 14 participants.

Age-Friendly World