Driving towards a CarFreeMe

27 Jun 2016

We spend the majority of our childhood years waiting to do it, and in adulthood we try to hang on for as long as possible before giving it up.

The ability to drive can play a major role in how we feel about ourselves.

University of Queensland School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences researcher Associate Professor Louise Gustafsson wants greater support for those forced to leave their vehicle in park.

“The focus of our CarFreeMe intervention is to help older people navigate driving cessation,” Dr Gustafsson said.

“One thing our research team knows and feels strongly about is that life does not stop just because you cannot drive.

“Respondents use fairly emotive language when describing driving cessation, such as ‘how can I live my life without driving?’

“We want to help people adjust and be okay with it, then gain the confidence to explore other alternatives and get out into the community.”

Telehealth – the provision of health care via telecommunications - is expected to play a central role in the future delivery of CarFreeMe, ensuring people in remote areas can access the program.

Importantly, the intervention is not just for older adults – work is under way to develop the program for people with dementia or brain injury and for stroke survivors of any age.

CarFreeMe works on basic principles of empowerment, support and understanding.

“It helps participants own their decision to cease driving,” Dr Gustafsson said.

“It allows them to feel more in control, have a plan in place, be more confident and comfortable within themselves and, ultimately, still get to do the things that are important to them.

“We offer psychological, social and practical support.

“The feedback so far is that CarFreeMe helps people feel more ready to make the right decision at the right point in time and helps them stay active and involved without driving.”

The intervention has received a $15,000 UQ Collaboration and Industry Engagement Fund  grant to investigate its potential for telehealth delivery in South Australia.

Collaborators on the project include Dr Jacki LiddleProfessor Trevor Russell, Professor Nancy Pachana from the School of Psychology, and Professor Geoffrey Mitchell and Dr Theresa Scott from the Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Media: Associate Professor Louise Gustafsson, l.gustafsson@uq.edu.au, +617 3365 2926; Robert Burgin at UQ Communications, r.burgin@uq.edu.au+617 3346 3035, +61 448 410 364. Website:www.carfreeme.com.au.