Blooming Marvellous, 5 years of Driving Miss Daisy

From corporate hospitality to business owner, Davina is celebrating her 5th successful year running a Driving Miss Daisy franchise in Kingswinford.

A real people person and keen snooker player, Davina describes herself as gregarious and enjoys a good chat. This has helped her win the hearts of the residents in her local community, resulting in an excellent reputation and her being the go to person for assisted transportation and companionship services.

Inspired by her dad, who also ran his own business, Davina looked extensively for something that would fit around being a single mum of 2 teenage daughters, whilst carving out a legacy she could build of her own, using her natural inter-personal skills.

Davina celebrates 5 successful years this April, reflecting on the many and varied experiences encountered. Her clients mean a tremendous amount to her, and the reviews received are a testament to her hard work, grit and determination. Everyone receives a first class service, with Davina and her team always going the extra mile.

Driving Miss Daisy launches its Kidney Dialysis Companion Service

The impact that kidney dialysis has upon individuals, their families and friends is immense. It’s not just the effort of getting to and from hospital or dialysis unit three times every week, or the feelings of fatigue and tiredness that are the natural side effects of having your blood cleaned every other day, but there also significant medical side effects that may occur. This means that extra care and attention must be paid to anyone undergoing dialysis.

Whether it’s getting to and from hospital, getting out and about or undertaking any form of daily activity, 3 of the most problematic and potential life-threatening side effects of dialysis are:

  1. Cardiac shock and heart failure.
  2. Hypotension which is a significant drop in blood pressure.
  3. Internal bleeding due to the insertion of PICC lines and the use of blood thinking drugs.

In order to ensure that anyone undergoing kidney dialysis can live their lives to the fullest extent possible, Driving Miss Daisy has launched its own Kidney Dialysis Companion service. In conjunction with our medical support team, Driving Miss Daisy Companion Drivers can now be trained as Dialysis Companions.

The training involves understanding how dialysis works, the needs of the individual at the hospital, at home and during transportation or trips out and about.  The dialysis Companions are trained in observing, identifying and dealing with the side effects of dialysis treatments.

Specific vehicles will have enhanced first aid equipment and our Client Services Centre is equipped to support all our Companion Drivers in the field.

This service was launched during the COVID lockdown in May 2020 at the behest of clients that undergoing kidney dialysis and found that the use of free Non-Emergency Patient Transport services, taxi and wheelchair-taxis services were too stressful and didn’t offer the end-to-end care capability embedded in the Driving Miss Daisy service.

 

For more information about kidney dialysis companion support please contact the Driving Miss Daisy Client Services Centre or visit www.kidneycareuk.org for more information.

Loneliness and COVID19

Loneliness and Driving Miss Daisy

For the uninitiated, Driving Miss Daisy may seem like a taxi service for the elderly, a wheelchair taxi service or a transport service for people living with a disability.

In reality, this could not be further from the truth.

As we approach the end of a very difficult year in terms of the COVID 19 pandemic, Driving Miss Daisy teams across the country have been hard at work, supporting individuals and families in combating the secondary, deadly, social disease caused by COVID 19,

That disease is loneliness.

So what is loneliness?

It takes many forms. The definition of loneliness is a sadness because one has no friends or companions, but can also mean a feeling of being remote, without human interaction or isolated, of being disenfranchised.

In reality it’s more insidious than that, you can be part of a very loving family, have people living close by who are willing to help, have a friend you can call on for a chat, but still feel lonely and isolated. You want to feel needed, you want to feel important, relevant, loved and that you are making a difference to someone else’s life no matter how small that difference actually is.

Feeling lonely can also have a negative impact on your mental health, especially if these feelings have lasted a long time. Research suggests that loneliness is associated with an increased risk of certain mental health problems, including depressionanxietylow self-esteemsleep problems and stress related illnesses. [Ref Mind.org.uk]

Loneliness is not just a mental problem, it actually causes physical problems, increasing the likelihood of heart attacks and strokes amongst other problems.

Psychologists sometimes talk about 10 steps to recognising and dealing with loneliness.

  1. Realize that loneliness is a feeling and not a fact
  2. Reach out because loneliness is painful and reduces feeling of self worth.
  3. Recognise your self-deflating thoughts
  4. Make a plan to fight your mental and emotional habits of loneliness.
  5. Focus on the needs and feelings of others.
  6. Find others like you
  7. Always show up when you’ve arranged to meet others
  8. Be curious, try new things but don’t expect perfection.
  9. Kindness goes a long way
  10. Be persistent

This is all well and good but in real terms it’s impossible to do without external counselling or help. Our medical advisors tell us that up to 10% of their primary care appointments each week, are for people that just want to talk to someone.

Robert De Niro sums up the situation well in the film called The Intern.

these are some of his quotes from the film:

  • “I have lots of time on my hands”
  • “Life is a relentless effort in creativity”
  • “I have a feeling of nowhere to be”
  • “I’ve tried everything”
  • “I rely on my family way more than I should”
  • “I have a hole in my life that I need to fill”
  • “I need a place I can go every day”
  • “I want to be needed”
  • “Every time I come home, the feeling of nowhere to be, hits me like a ton of bricks”

If you close your eyes and hear those phrases, they could apply to anyone, not only the elderly.

So how does Driving Miss Daisy help?

Driving Miss Daisy started because a person recognised the fact that someone close to them needed to feel wanted, to feel needed and be in control. More importantly they didn’t want to be a burden on others, because that reduced their feelings of self-worth. The key point to note here is that they then did something about it.

These are natural human emotions and one that we will all feel when as we get older. We will feel it every bit as much as our parents did and as I get older and watch my children grow into adults, I understand why. Getting a taxi or a wheelchair-taxi is a functional activity that adds nothing to the emotional well-being of the service user, In fact, it often makes them feel even more of a burden because the taxi driver may be in a hurry to get their next fare. Wheelchair-taxis are often difficult or impossible to find.

So how does Driving Miss Daisy help combat the disease of loneliness? Why are we here?

To make a difference, to help people that can’t always help themselves.

But most importantly, to give people their lives back.

We give people back their dignity, their independence and enable them to live their lives as they want, with them being in control.

This doesn’t only apply to older people but parents with young children, people living with dementia or disability, people living with acute or chronic illnesses, people who choose not to drive or can’t drive for other reasons the list goes on and on. We enable almost anyone, no matter their age or condition, to get out and about and enjoy life to the full.

Within the next 8 years the proportion of the UK population that will be over 60 will rise from 31% to 36% and this equates to many millions people in the UK over 60. This figure rises constantly with time and an aging population.

The direct and indirect effects of loneliness are only going to grow.

As someone once said to me

If not us, who?

If not now, when?

 

Driving Miss Daisy Wins a 2019 Silver-i Award – Product

After being shortlisted in May as one of 6 finalists in May, we are happy to announce that Driving Miss Daisy® was recognized with a “Highly Commended “ Award at the Silver Travel Advisor Award Ceremony at BAFTA London on the 26th June

Here is an extract from the judges comments : 

“ Driving Miss Daisy – Home to Holiday Assisted Transfers 

One of those ideas which somebody should have thought of long ago. It’s often the case that larger companies get the accolades. However, here is a company that has identified specific needs for an ageing population and the physical and mental challenges people face while still wishing to enjoy a holiday “ 

John Overdijking, Director of Alliances: “ I want to emphasise that the other finalists were established and large well known Travel and holiday companies like Avalon Waterways, and Shearings Holidays . For a brand new participant in these Silver Travel Awards to be recognised like this in a huge field of well-known holiday sector heavy weights is a massive achievement for Driving Miss Daisy®.

It’s clear as day we need to continue to develop and grow our Holiday services and become the go to company for Assisted Home to Holiday Transfers , Assisted Days Out and Assisted U.K. Tours . “

STA-Awards-Logo-2019-Finalist Blue

Driving Miss Daisy Finalist in 2019 Silver Travel-i Product Awards

Driving Miss Daisy® are proud to announce that they are finalists in the Silver Travel Advisor’s Silver-i Product Award 2019 category. This award recognises the company that has delivered outstandingly for the mature traveller since 1 May 2018 in terms of an idea, initiative or innovation in its Product Development.

Driving Miss Daisy® offers a safe, friendly and reliable driving and companion service for anyone who is unable to drive but wishes to remain independent. They identified an opportunity to develop a service aimed at supporting those who need additional support to reach their UK departure point or UK holiday destination in complete peace of mind and the Assisted Home to Holiday Transfer Service was developed. The service effectively bridges the gap between the home and the holiday departure point/ UK holiday destination for those who do not have any other way of reaching their destination.

The Home to Holiday Assisted Transfer provides a personalised service with additional assistance and wheelchair accessible vehicles if required. With a number of key benefits making up the service, the core essence is that a client’s holiday starts in their front room and each person is treated as if they were ‘your own parent’, right through to arriving back home again.

John Overdijking, of Alliances & Regional Franchise Development, said, “As the only UK’s Driving and Companion service we looked at how we could offer a unique assisted transfer service that would enable those who perhaps would otherwise not go on holiday to enjoy all the benefits of travel without any concern over their safety, and add to the enjoyment of the holiday. We eliminated the barriers for a huge and growing sector of the population and innovated our existing service into a specific Assisted Home to Holiday Transfer Service.

‘Judged by travel industry experts, there were 15 entries from national companies, and we are one of 6 finalists.”

The awards will be presented at the Silver Travel Awards on Wednesday 26 June 2019 at BAFTA in London’s Piccadilly, hosted by TV legend Dame Esther Rantzen.

ITN film Driving Miss Daisy

ITN Productions film Driving Miss Daisy®

This short video gives a wonderful introduction and insight to the operation and services of Driving Miss Daisy®. From receiving the initial phone call from a client to taking a client shopping, it summarises and encompasses what we do and the importance our service makes to people’s lives.

 

 
The filming is a result of the British Franchise Association (of which we are a member) and ITN Productions collaborating on a news style programme, ‘Franchising the Next Generation’ anchored by Natasha Kaplinsky. The programme will be officially launched at the bfa Annual Conference on the 27th June.

Driving Miss Daisy®'s wedding service

Driving Miss Daisy®’s Wedding Service

Driving Miss Daisy®’s wedding service ensures everyone attends the special event. A wedding is a time for togetherness and special memories. If there is a friend or relative that needs assistance getting there, we can help. Often this is an elderly relative, who would love to go, but they may have mobility issues. For example, they may be in a wheelchair or require transport from a care home. Likewise, they often want to leave after the wedding breakfast but before the evening music starts. Our service is tailored to their needs; and it doesn’t need a guest to be a designated driver.

We can also stay with relatives at the event to assist and help if required. This allows everyone to enjoy the event and not be concerned about the relative being potentially left on their own.
Our service helps the families and wedding organisers, but it especially works for the people we drive. No stress, they can leave when they want to go rather than relying on another member of the wedding party, and have company if they want it.

Driving Miss Daisy®'s wedding service

Driving Miss Daisy®’s wedding service

 

Driving Miss Daisy’s Wedding Service from Driving Miss Daisy UK .

What attracted you to Driving Miss Daisy®?

Driving Miss Daisy Daisy® Bath is one of our first franchises to launch in 2019 and is run by husband and wife team Sarah and Jo Webb. Sarah answered some questions on their reasons behind opening the franchise, their experiences and what’s worked well for them so far.

What attracted you to Driving Miss Daisy®?

We were both attracted to Driving Miss Daisy® as we realized it was a service we would like for our parents and children. We have both run our own business for many years and there was something about Driving Miss Daisy® that chimed with our feelings of wanting to make a real difference in our communities, particularly in challenging times when families are juggling the demands of caring for both children and elderly relatives whilst working, especially if they do not live close by.

Has there been anything unexpected that’s surprised you?

Where do I start?
We were told by other franchisees that we would become integral to the lives of our clients. Whilst we understood this conceptually it wasn’t until we started, that we truly began to understand the power of the service and how close we would become to our clients in many instances becoming firm friends. We get as excited as they do when we are taking them for outings or on holidays.

What’s your experience been like so far?

Our experience so far has been amazing, because of family circumstances last year we had to delay the launch of our business and the team at Driving Miss Daisy® could not have been more helpful and supportive. When we finally agreed a date to launch, everything was in place to get the wheels turning and the support from the Client Services Centre, adjacent franchisees, our designated mentor and from the Driving Miss Daisy® management was exemplary and ensured that we moved into operational status with the least amount of fuss and bother.

What’s worked well in promoting Driving Miss Daisy® in your area?

We have spoken to lots of social groups and organizations in our area and without exception they have all told us that they are glad we are here, as specialist transportation is a massive problem for all of them. We have pushed how truly flexible we can be and how clients must use us like family. We recently attended the Bath and NE Somerset Dementia Action Alliance – Dementia Friendly Conference at the Guildhall in Bath on the 7th February. The reception we got was beyond our wildest dreams and we are now running to catch up as orders have flooded in from a range of organizations who support people and families of people living with dementia. We are already looking to expand our fleet with more wheelchair accessible vehicles and companion drivers.

What would you say to someone thinking about opening a Driving Miss Daisy® franchise?

They have to realize that we are definitely not a taxi service. Whilst the vehicle and transportation is at the centre of our activities we also provide companion only services, twilight support to individuals and families and an integrated holiday service with partner organizations such as Mind For You, Disabled Holidays, Enable Holidays, and Limitless Travel to name but a few. To those starting out I would say, spend time really getting to understand the value of our service to our clients as it takes a while for this to sink in. Go out of your way for people, then they soon realize we are not taxis. The courtesy phone call the night before is essential for you and them. If family book you for a relative, give them a follow up email or call to tell them how well the trip went and thank them for their business.

Anything else you’d like to say about being a Driving Miss Daisy® Franchisee?

Our biggest tip is to follow what you are told in training. The training is excellent and based upon over 100,000 journeys so listen and implement because it works and it works well.