Help for drivers
Driving can help you to stay independent, especially in areas where there is poor public transport. But as you get older, you may lose confidence or have a health condition that affects your ability to drive. Our webpage Driving in later life has more information about how you can continue to drive safely, the Motability scheme and assessments for drivers.
If you have problems with walking or other health conditions that affect your mobility, you may be able to get a Blue Badge to help you park closer to the places you want to go.
If you think you might benefit from some equipment to help you stay mobile, contact your local council to ask for a care needs assessment, even if you’re thinking of buying the equipment privately. You’ll be able to get advice on the types of equipment, as well as adaptations you might need to make to your home, such as widening doorways. Our webpage Disability equipment has more information about what to consider and where to start.
Mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs
Before you buy or hire a mobility scooter or electric wheelchair, it’s a good idea to get an assessment from a physiotherapist or an occupational therapist. Contact your GP for advice.
There are many different types of scooter and powered wheelchair, so you’ll need to do some research. A good starting place is RIDC, an independent consumer research organisation for older and disabled people. The Disabled Living Foundation can also give advice and has a series of factsheets to help you choose mobility equipment.
Manual wheelchairs and walking aids
You may feel more confident about getting out and about if you use walking aids, such as a walking frame, crutches or sticks, or a manual wheelchair. NHS Wheelchair Services can assess you to find the best option for you. Ask your GP, or an occupational therapist or physiotherapist, to refer you for an assessment. The NHS may be able to lend you a wheelchair or walking aids.
You may also be able to hire or borrow a wheelchair from the British Red Cross for a small fee if you only need to use it for a short time. Use the postcode search to find a mobility aids service near you.
Help with shopping
Shopmobility lends scooters, wheelchairs and other aids to people who are less mobile, so they can shop and visit leisure facilities in their local area. Some schemes offer escorts for people with sight loss. Staff at the scheme will assess you to find equipment that you’re comfortable with, and give you training and safety information. There may be a small charge for the service.
The scheme varies depending on where you live. Contact the shopmobility service to find out what’s available in your area.
If you just need someone to go shopping with you, you may be able to find an escorted shopping service through your local Age UK. There may be a charge for this.
Travel passes and discounts
The age when you can get an older person’s bus pass depends on where you live:
- in England, you can apply when you reach State Pension age
- in London, you can get a Freedom Pass when you are 60.
There may be restrictions on when you can use it, such as off peak only.
You may be entitled to free bus travel if you have a disability.
Contact your local council to find out if/when you qualify and how to apply for a pass.
Coach and rail discounts
Help to use public transport
Travelling by train
If you need help with your bags or getting on and off trains, for example, you can book assistance by contacting Passenger Assist or the train company you’re planning to travel with. Details are on the National Rail website, which also has a ‘stations made easy’ tool, so you can check station facilities and accessibility.
If you’re travelling with a wheelchair or powered scooter, you should book a space in advance. Train companies have different policies about what they can take. Contact the relevant company for advice.
Bus and coach travel
Bus and coach drivers must give reasonable assistance to disabled people, such as helping you to get on and off a bus or coach. This doesn’t include lifting you or heavy mobility equipment. You can get more information from Bus Users UK.
If you’re travelling by coach, you should ask for any help you need in advance, when you book your ticket.
Special transport schemes
Your local council may operate special transport schemes in your area, such as:
- dial-a-ride, for people who can’t use public transport
- a taxicard or taxi voucher scheme, offering reduced taxi fares for older, less mobile people
- a local volunteer drivers scheme, which can arrange lifts in cars driven by volunteers, for a small charge.
Free transport to day centres
Most councils and some charities have day centres where you can meet people, get a meal or join an outing. You may need to have a care needs assessment from your local council before you can start attending a day centre. Many will provide free transport if you qualify.
Your GP might recommend using hospital transport if that is the best option for your health. For subsequent visits, you’ll have to arrange this yourself at the patient transport desk in the hospital.
If you organise your own transport, you may be able to claim back the costs of travelling to hospital if you’re on Guarantee Pension Credit or qualify for the NHS Low Income Scheme.
If you need a break, ask adult social services at your local council if they can help. They may be able to provide information about suitable accommodation or arranging transport. They can also tell you about charities that can help to fund holidays for people with disabilities. See our factsheet Extra help with essential costs if you're on a low income for more information.