Home care workers across County Durham are being offered support to help pass their driving tests.
Durham County Council has produced an innovative package to assist both workers and the county’s home care sector to provide community-based care packages.
Walkers to Drivers aims to increase the number of care workers who are able to drive by paying £15 towards the cost of each one-hour lesson and 50 per cent of the first theory and practical tests taken.
There are currently 12 learners on the scheme, with two of those learners having now passed their driving test.
Donna Williams, who works for Comfort Call in Peterlee, was the first to pass her test through the programme, having put her name down for it as soon as it became available.
Donna said: “I absolutely love my job but the amount of walking was quite tiring, especially in the bad weather and dark nights. Without this scheme it would have taken me a lot longer to pass as I was able to take two lessons a week thanks to the money saved.
“It has really helped me in both my work and day-to-day home tasks. I’m a mother of four, so it’s great not having to rely on public transport or family members to go shopping or for days out. I may not have even thought about doing it at all if I hadn’t heard of the scheme or been accepted on it.”
Local home care providers can put forward the details of staff who are currently unable to drive but would like to pass their test to help them in their care worker role and they will then be considered for the scheme.
Cllr Chris Hood, Cabinet member for adult and health services, said: “It is important that we look for innovative ways to support our local care providers. Travelling to visit people in their homes is an important part of delivering care in the community and we are pleased to be able to support this through our Walkers to Drivers scheme.
“The project will help providers by increasing their capacity to support more of our residents. It also highlights our commitment to ensuring everyone in County Durham has access to the best possible care and we will continue to look for ways to support both providers and service users through the current pressures in the sector.”