A service to support people affected by dementia as they retire from driving

Onwards is a 16-month project led by ESP Group and funded by Life Changes Trust. The project will see ESP co-design, build and deliver a new, financially sustainable service for Scottish people with dementia to support the transition of retiring from driving. Longer term ESP would hope to roll the service out across the UK.

ESP Group has come to recognise the complexity and emotional challenges of the process of retiring from driving, a transition which is particularly heightened for people affected by dementia. Generally speaking, individuals want to be able to continue to drive for as long as possible and, indeed, people in the early stages of dementia are often allowed to continue to drive with annual re-assessments of their abilities. It is reported that, “the general consensus appears to be that it is usually safe to continue to drive for about 3 years after the onset of Alzheimer’s disease”, while other forms of dementia may allow for longer or shorter continuation of driving. However, most people with dementia will ultimately have their licences revoked or will voluntarily choose to surrender their licences.

lady on bus WALES


If an individual with dementia is allowed to continue to drive but is to be reassessed annually, this could be a prime opportunity to encourage  them to start trying other modes (e.g. public transport and taxis) so that the transition is easier when they do retire from driving.

onwards reassurance


Sharing positive stories of people who are travelling well and living well, with or without a driving licence, to help others make the transition with a confidence.



Linking the driving assessment process more directly to related national transport programmes such as the National Entitlement Card (NEC) for concessionary travel.

Onwards Logo


Initial work has been undertaken to begin to understand the business model and business case opportunities for the future Onwards service. ESP Group have engaged Upstream to do some of the research and help co-design the service.  Much of the data has been gratefully received from Freedom of Information requests made to the DVLA. However, data is very limited about how people with dementia travel by other modes as their condition deteriorates.


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