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The Blue Badge scheme has been helping people with disabilities to lead more independent lives for nearly fifty years. The scheme helps people with disabilities to park a car close to their destination, either as a passenger or driver.

Now the scheme has been extended and people living with dementia are also able to apply for a Blue Badge – which is potentially great news.

Until recently, only those with physical disabilities were able to apply for a Blue Badge, as they were generally considered less able to take public transport or walk longer distances. However, people with hidden disabilities such as autism, mental health conditions and indeed dementia have finally been included too.

Since the badge is linked to the person ( not the car)  this means that those who are caring for someone with dementia can also benefit from the scheme.  The applicant doesn’t need to be able to drive to apply, the badge is for the car they are travelling in, and can be used in any vehicle they are using, even taxis. But it must be clearly displayed (and other people aren’t allowed to use it if the person with dementia is not travelling with them).

Transport Minister Jesse Norman said: “Blue badges are a lifeline for disabled people, giving them the freedom and confidence to get to work and visit friends independently. The changes ensure that this scheme is extended equally to people with hidden disabilities so that they can enjoy the freedoms that many of us take for granted.

The new criteria includes people who:

cannot undertake a journey without there being a risk of serious harm to their health or safety or that of any other person

* cannot undertake a journey without it causing them very considerable psychological distress

* have very considerable difficulty when walking (both the physical act and experience of walking)

Previous guidelines about Blue Badge eligibility were open to interpretation, and whilst a few councils did include  ‘hidden disabilities’, many others didn’t. This meant some people with dementia could get  a Blue Badge…and others couldn’t. The new guidelines are much clearer and should make life easier for everyone on the dementia journey.

Your local council is responsible for making the decision.

You can apply or renew a Blue Badge here.

Before you start:

Get organised – you will need proof of identity (such as a birth certificate or passport), proof of address (a recent bill) and proof of dementia (a letter from a doctor confirming diagnosis etc). You’ll also need a recent photograph of the person with dementia. Also find any other documents you have about their condition, including any hospital treatments, mobility aids or medication. You can also add a letter from a GP or health professional to support your application.

Take your time – think carefully about each question. For example, you’ll need to explain how dementia affects their mobility. To answer this properly, think about the person you care about on one of their bad days. Would an uneven pavement cause them to trip or fall? Would they understand road or pedestrian signs? Would it be safe for them to cross a road on their own? The more you can explain, the better.

Be patient – it can take around eight weeks a for the council to process your application.  If your application is refused, you can ask them to reconsider.

Find out more about the Blue Badge scheme here