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Dementia and cognitive impairment conference, January 2017

Driving and cognitive impairment conference, Jan 2017Driving is often a contentious issue for people with dementia and their carers. Health professionals often need to assess whether people with minor degrees of cognitive impairment should stop driving, inform the DVLA or have an on-road test.

The Oxford AHSN Dementia Clinical Network held an event jointly with the Thames Valley Strategic Clinical Network in January 2017 on this important topic. The programme with biographies can be found here.

Over 150 people attended, including psychiatrists, GPs, memory clinic nurses, practice nurses, psychologists, representatives of mobility centres, researchers and representatives of voluntary organisations.


The event began with Dr James McKillop who spoke of his personal experience of driving and dementia. All delegates received a copy of a booklet which James has written on this topic and which can be found here.

Dr Kit Mitchell, a member of the Road Safety Foundation’s Older Driver Task Force presented work on behalf of the taskforce and Anu Varshney gave us an insight into the work of Mobility Centres and the Medical Fitness to Drive assessment. See Anu’s presentation here

Dr Robert Bashuk, a neurologist from the USA, described how he uses the DriveABLE cognitive assessment tool for the evaluation of Medically At Risk Drivers – the DriveABLE tool was available at the event for delegates to see. See the presentation here

Dr Alistair Burns, National Clinical Director for Dementia, gave an update from a national perspective and gave his view on specific questions which had been posed to him prior to the event. See the presentation here

Associate Professor Kate Radford‘s presentation described work on cognitive screening methods to identify which people with dementia need a road assessment.

The conference had a change of tone with a presentation by Harry Beney, producer and director from RDF television. Harry gave a filmmaker’s perspective of older people’s driving using clips from his ‘100 Year Old Drivers’ series. It was helpful to see the types of mistakes that some older people might make at the wheel.

The event closed with Dr Rupert McShane, the Oxford AHSN Dementia Clinical Network Lead, giving his views on future pathways and leading a panel discussion with the other speakers.

Evaluation of the event showed it was very well received by participants, with almost all those returning forms describing the event as good or excellent.

Useful links

  • Find out more about the Oxford AHSN Dementia Clinical Network here.
  • Find out more about the Thames Valley Strategic Clinical Network here.
  • The GMC has recently issued new guidance on Fitness to drive and reporting concerns to the DVLA/DVA – this can be found here.
  • Newcastle driving and dementia pathway – this is currently being updated but the previous version can be found here. The mild cognitive impairment version is here. (Note that DVLA guidance has been updated since.)