May I give you a lift?

I have pasted below the introduction from a long resource paper you can see in full here. It is unfinished, as there are still a dozen or more questions that remain unanswered and some bits may be just plain wrong! So please have a look at the introduction and if you can help with any of the challenges, please get in touch.


Introduction

It is commonplace for one citizen to offer another citizen a ride in their car. These informal, often spontaneous arrangements enable people to help one another and open up social events to non-drivers and people who don’t own a car. They help people get to work, to socialise with their friends, to have a drink, to share an outing together. They reduce costs, pollution and congestion on the roads, in some places shortening journey time by giving access to High Occupancy Vehicle (2+) lanes. They point to the future, in which driverless cars will be used as a service, rather than individually owned.

Informal lift sharing between a member of the public and a care home resident will be difficult when residents have no established connections with people living in the neighbourhood, when they have complex health needs and disabilities, and when their behaviour is seen as challenging. But it seems that there are barriers beyond these factors that make informal lift sharing a rarity in UK care homes.

Perhaps staff feel obliged to provide transport themselves and so they increase demands on the public purse, rather than support people to accept a lift from a neighbour or a friend. If anyone mentions lift-sharing, some staff may assume this means other people using the same health or social care service, rather than ordinary citizens. When planning a trip, do they suspect that their employer would discipline them for offering a lift to a member of the public? Might they insist on seeing a certificate from the Disclosure and Barring Service to prove that neither the driver nor the passenger has a criminal record of robbery or hostage taking? Some worry about liability in the event of an accident. These legitimate anxieties result in care home residents being unwittingly denied opportunities to offer or receive a lift.

This is not about getting around. This paper shines the spotlight on lift-sharing as an opportunity for disabled people to enjoy social connections with neighbours and friends beyond the disability community. By asking about lift-sharing with the general public, this paper accuses the health and social care system of creating a benevolent ghetto in which the body is cared for and moved around, but the person is held back from engaging with other citizens. Lift-sharing is almost unthinkable in many care homes because it is too hard to imagine that the person might have friends outside the service. On those rare occasions where informal lift-sharing does happen, staff are afraid to talk about it openly for fear that it will come to the attention of a bureaucrat and get closed down.

So I am seeking ways to bring this everyday exclusion to an end. It may be that DBS regulations sentence care recipients to an excluded life – or maybe not. So, while explorations continue, options are reviewed and the search continues for solutions so that people living in care homes and others who receive health and social care support can be part of the community too, offering and accepting lifts like anyone else.


Challenges

Challenge #1:   Do any care providers have a written policy that restricts the use of their vehicle to staff and people using their service and that prevents any other person riding in the vehicle? What are the reasons given for this restriction?

Challenge #2:   What are the rules governing care staff using their own vehicle in work time?  Can they transport the people who use their services? What about including a member of the public in the journey?

Challenge #3:   Does anyone have a story in which a care provider sets up a taxi for a person they support and they then offer a lift to a member of the public?

Challenge #4:   There is a difference between a pre-arranged lift booked between friends who know one another, and a spontaneous arrangement where the connection is more tenuous and may even be mediated by a third party. Should informal lift-sharing be confined to pre-planned occasions or be limited to people who have capacity or who are accompanied by staff?

Challenge #5:   There is no legislative definition of assistance or support in Section 19 permits, but do individual Community Transport providers specify the nature of the assistance or support that helpers must offer to eligible passengers?

Challenge #6:   Does anyone have an example of a person who is supported by health or social care services using a car sharing scheme?

Challenge #7:   Does anyone have an example of a person who is supported by health or social care services putting a neighbour or friend on their car insurance?

Challenge #8:   Do any organisations use a risk assessment protocol that includes travel arrangements and that includes the potential for members of the public to be involved? This would need to be a risk management approach that contemplated the possibility of informal lift-sharing rather than just prohibiting it.

Challenge #9:   Has anyone tried to obtain more clarity about the boundary between regulated activities and informal community participation so that care recipients can easily engage in an informal life beyond the service?

Challenge #10:   Has anyone converted the various scenarios described in official documents about DBS checks into a questionnaire to find out if frontline health and social care staff know the difference between regulated and unregulated activities? This would test the hypothesis that folklore beliefs about the reach of DBS checks are creating unduly restrictive conditions for care home residents.

Challenge #11:   Timebanks do not need a DBS check, so how do they manage risk when children or vulnerable adults are involved?

Challenge #12:   Under what circumstances might someone who is subject to Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards safely enjoy unescorted or unstaffed leave from the care home?