Lockdown in Ipswich – how Driving Miss Daisy Franchise Owner Nigel Stead kept himself busy and his clients amused July 2020

During the April lockdown Nigel kept himself as busy as possible within sensible parameters and in line with legislation.  Naturally with the client group he supports, work at times was limited.  However, having received permission from Dementia Together, RS’s daughter was able to continue to book Nigel in a variety of ways.

RS pictured above, is 89 years old, lives alone and has 2 daughters who have their own families and are not particularly local to him.  He lives with Dementia and has carers to support him three times per day.  Nigel was engaged to take RS out 4 times a week through the summer purely with the intention to make him happy and maintain his mental wellbeing.  Such outings would include trips to the local river for a walk and watch the boats or have a coffee once the restrictions were lifted.  RS had a successful career in IT – has flown planes, sailed yachts and completed National Service the air-sea rescue as well as using his yacht to rescue the residents of Canvey Island during the floods in 1953.


Nigel’s work was commissioned by RS’s family, mainly to take him out as a companion/friend and RS really looks forward to those times, thinking of them as a ‘trip out’. His daughter is adamant that her father would not have been able to cope mentally or physically being confined to his home. Without Nigel my father would not be the contented person he is today. I cannot praise him enough!


During lockdown it was so important that Nigel could maintain his working relationship with RS; it saved his family from worrying and thinking their father would simply be wandering around at home alone all day.  It was good for his physical well-being too.  One of RS’s daughters gave 100% praise to Nigel knowing her Dad was looked after and enjoyed going out.  Nigel ensured he maintained plenty of communication with RS’s family and sent emails and text messages after each trip so RS’s daughter felt reassured and comforted by his involvement.


Taking advice from the local Dementia support hub, Nigel was able to establish that it was more beneficial for RS to go out (for his leisure time), than stay indoors mostly alone – despite the Covid-19 risks.  Nigel considered all the precautions he needed to take to make this as safe an interaction as possible, for himself and his client – with relevant social distancing measures, wiping clean his Driving Miss Daisy wheelchair adapted vehicle and ensuring all the necessary PPE was worn when with RS.


Whilst it has been a difficult time for all Driving Miss Daisy Companion Drivers, those who have been able to continue to work have managed some form of service and in Nigel’s words ‘the benefits (of undertaking such work during the Covid outbreak) outweigh the risks, but I have been and am sensible at all times – knowing that being outdoors is less of an overall risk in any case’.

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