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Thread: PIP assessment yesterday

  1. #1
    Senior Member catlover's Avatar
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    PIP assessment yesterday

    well it's been and gone. I got there ok by taxi and was able to be dropped off very close to the entrance of The Lilac Centre. The receptionist was friendly and gave me a travelling expenses claim form without being asked. When I was waiting for a taxi to take me home afterwards she went outside to find it and direct the driver to come closer and pick me up at the entrance. The building was wheelchair accessible and had an accessible toilet.

    As to the assessment itself - I think the best word to describe it is bizarre! It was very odd in many ways. The assessor was polite and pleasant enough but not overly friendly and didn't really make me feel at ease. But the oddest thing was when I went into the room I was directed to a seat (there were 2 side by side) which was at least 6 feet away from where she sat. As she was sat facing a computer I was sat at a right angle to her so she rarely looked at me. Given the fact that I am still deaf in one ear due to ear wax, this didn't make for the easiest communication and it felt very strange to be talking to someone so far away who wasn't even looking at me.

    She asked me questions which were obviously related to the activities but when I tried to explain she constantly told me to stop talking so that she could type. That made it really hard to pick up where I'd left off and on some occasions she would finish typing then ask a question about something totally different even though I hadn't finished explaining my problems regarding the previous activity. re dressing, for example, I explained that I use a sock aid to put my socks on and was about to explain what other aids/help I needed but she interrupted me and told me to stop talking so that she could type and then when she'd finished she moved on to something totally different even though I hadn't finished telling her about the problems I had with dressing. On that occasion I interrupted her and said I'd not explained what other help I needed with dressing but for many activities I just didn't get the chance to say what I wanted to say. I'm sure she had read my PIP2 form and knew what she wanted to ask about but she should have given me a chance to explain all the help I needed re an activity. I didn't get the impression she was really listening and I know that on at least one occasion she got it wrong and wrote something that was the opposite of what I was telling her. I corrected her on that point but most of the time she didn't check that she had got it right.

    I can't help feeling that it would have been much better if she had asked an opening question about an activity and then listened to what I said (within reason - if I was rambling on and on it would be reasonable for her to interrupt) before attempting to type up the salient points while double checking anything she was unsure of. I was interrupted so often that I lost my train of thought and know I didn't say all the things I wanted to say. At the end she did ask if there was anything else I wanted to add but by then I couldn't really remember what I'd said and what I hadn't and obviously we couldn't go back over every activity so I just said no.

    She asked very little about moving around (the main activity relevant to me!) and didn't give me a chance to explain fully the problems I have and how they interact. I find it difficult to be concise when discussing my problems with walking because there are so many different types of pain in different parts of my body and different issues relating to numbness, limping, loss of balance etc. that I sometimes don't know where to start and she didn't give me a chance to explain properly.

    re the physical examination - she asked me to stand unaided and I genuinely couldn't. There was a wash basin nearby which I held on to but every time I let go I lost my balance and at one point she rushed up to me because she thought I was going to fall. The she asked me to lie down and she asked me to push against her hand with my foot, turn my leg out etc. I managed these but not terribly well. She tended to say ok after I'd moved my leg/foot about an inch so not sure what she made of that. She also took a peak flow meter reading as I have asthma.

    I had taken with me an updated version of the "how my disability affects me" form. When I completed the original form it was handwritten on the actual form and done in a hurry. It was due in 4th January 2014 so had to be completed over the xmas period and posted in time to get there by 4th Jan. As I don't have a printer at home I didn't have the opportunity to type it which is what I would normally do and my handwriting is not the best! So I did a new version of that with a bit more detail, better organised with bullet points detailing the main problems with a particular activity. She wasn't interested in this but when I said I would post it to DWP she said she would forward it and she did have a quick look through it. I had originally intended to get this sent to ATOS before my assessment so that the assessor could read it before the appointment.

    The assessment lasted about an hour. I really can't call whether I think it will help my case or not. I wasn't terribly happy with the way in which it was conducted and I do wonder what training assessors are given and whether they are told to do it like that or whether this particular assessor chose to do it this way. It wasn't bad enough for me to complain or feel it went really badly, but I was not given the opportunity to explain things properly and being constantly interrupted and told to stop talking didn't help me to make my case. I'm not convinced that her report will be terribly accurate. I suspect getting what I think I should get will depend very much on whether the decision maker thinks there is enough medical evidence to support my claim and that my reported difficulties are consistent with the evidence. If s/he does, there should be little question that I should get enhanced mobility but I am preparing for the worst while hoping for the best.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Lighttouch's Avatar
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    Catlover thanks for sharing.

    You can only do your best and now it's a waiting game. In my experience tapping of legs is to find out the strength and weakness of legs. Obviously a person who is a permanent wheelchair user will have pronounced weakness.

    Even I'm not sure whether I would qualify for enhanced mobility on the new PIP assessment. If you can self-propel a manual wheelchair the chances are they'll try to put you on the standard rate - let's hope not!

    Best of luck! Just try to forget it now.

  3. #3
    Senior Member catlover's Avatar
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    LT - the propelling of a manual wheelchair is not relevant to PIP - I thing you're getting confused with ESA where I believe mobilising includes the ability to propel a manual wheelchair? The PIP moving about activity relates to walking only and I should qualify on speed alone. That doesn't mean I will get it but I do meet the criteria. I am lacking in medical evidence as I have not seen a consultant for donkeys years and just see my GP (who was supportive about me applying for PIP but I have no idea what he has said - assuming they have contacted him for a factual report - he told me to ask them to contact him). I am hoping that the long term nature of my disability (25 years) will go in my favour and common sense will prevail.

    Hmm - common sense and the DWP......

  4. #4
    Senior Member sea queen's Avatar
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    Thank you for sharing that catlover. It was an interesting read.
    My daughter has yet to have hers, so reading how the assessments are done is very useful.
    I do hope you get your full entitlement
    Sea Queen

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    I also noticed the distance of the chairs from the assessor. Assumed they just hadn't been put back in place but maybe there was a reason they are so far back. Perhaps to make it easier to observe me.

    She did have to tell me not to sit in the assessor seat though. She said take a seat and I took the closest one. Her seat.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Lighttouch's Avatar
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    I thin the assessors are under pressure to interview and write up a report within a timeframe.

    They aren't there fr a social chat but just need to type up as many plus points to make your case.

    I'm not sure if at this stage they are also reading and following an on-screen script and sort of multiple-choice type questionning. As this assessment needs to be conducted uniformally throughout the country each assessor will no doubt be using the same template.

    So, in my opinion, they aren't being rude by not sitting opposite with a mug of tea - they are sat behind a computer to both read the questions and type the answers as quickly as possible.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Lighttouch's Avatar
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    Something I found on the Benefiits and Work website about PIP medical assessment

    Below we give an outline of how PIPAT works
    PIPAT overview
    PIPAT is intended to allow all the details needed to carry out an assessment to be stored and worked on in one place by Atos and Capita.

    So, using PIPAT, HPs can see any documents relating to a PIP claim, including the claim form and supporting medical evidence, all of which is scanned and stored in .pdf format.
    HPs can also use PIPAT to record details of any requests they make for additional evidence and to justify a decision on whether to call the claimant in for a medical.
    And PIPAT is also used to guide the HP through the actual medical assessment itself and to generate the report that will be used by the decision maker when deciding whether to make an award of PIP and, if so, at what rates.
    PIPAT includes collections of standard phrases that HPs can choose from, as well as free text boxes they can type evidence into. They are expected to use a combination of both to create their report.
    Document review
    Before deciding what action to take on a new claim, a HP carries out a document review. Having looked through all the evidence available, the HP decides whether to:

    send for further evidence;
    invite the claimant for a ‘consultation’; or

    create a report based solely on the paper evidence without assessing the claimant in person.
    If the HP decides to send for further evidence they have to record their justification for doing so. PIPAT won’t create the letter requesting evidence,
    The options for further evidence listed in PIPAT are:

    • General Practitioner
    • Consultant
    • Community Psychiatric Nurse
    • Counsellor
    • Hospital Doctor
    • Occupational Therapist
    • Psychiatrist
    • Psychologist
    • Physiotherapist
    • Social Worker
    • Specialist Nurse
    • Teacher
    • Others

    When further evidence is obtained, we assume – but don’t know for certain – that a further review is carried out to decide whether to create a medical report solely on the papers or to call the claimant in for assessment.
    Beginning a consultation
    If the claimant is summoned for a consultation – the DWP’s term for a PIP medical assessment - the HP carrying out the medical should first review each item of evidence already available on PIPAT and then click on an ‘Add Evidence Used’ box to show that they have read that item.

    If paper evidence is brought to the consultation by the claimant, the HP should make a copy and send the original to the DWP to be scanned. The HP then has to complete an Evidence Details section giving details of the content of the additional evidence.
    Conditions
    The HP has to list the claimant’s health conditions by selecting from three consecutive drop down lists covering: the condition category; subcategory and then the specific condition. The example given in the training materials is:

    Condition Category: Genitourinary disease.
    Condition Subcategory: Renal failure R21 – R30.
    Condition: Renal failure – acute.
    History
    Next the HP will take a history from the claimant covering:


    • condition history;
    • medication;
    • treatment;
    • social and occupational history; and
    • functional history.

    Observations
    The observations section of the report is used to record both observations and formal examination findings. The HP is told that they must enter information under all of the following categories, even if just to report that the category was not examined:


    • General Appearance.
    • Mental State.
    • Vision, Speech and Hearing.
    • Cardiovascular and Respiratory.
    • Musculoskeletal.
    • Central Nervous System.
    • Other Systems.

    There are a range of ready-made phrases that the HP can select, using a list of ‘phrase names’. For example, in relation to vision, the choices include the following phrase names:

    • Sight no problem
    • Sight difficulty
    • Sight unable
    • Snellen distance vision
    • Snellen near vision
    • Wore glasses for test
    • Forgot glasses
    • Wears glasses distance only
    • Glasses reading only
    • Does not wear glasses
    • Visual aids benefit
    • Navigate

    Descriptor wizard
    The descriptor wizard allows the HP to choose a descriptor for each of the daily living and mobility activities. It doesn’t appear to provide any justification for the choice of descriptors, however.

    At the end of each component the HP also has to answer two further questions:
    How long have functional restrictions been present?

    • At least 3 months
    • Less than 3 months
    • Not applicable

    How long are functional restrictions likely to remain?

    • At least 9 months
    • Less than 9 months
    • Not Applicable

    Opinion summary
    In the opinion summary section the HP provides a summary of why they have reached their conclusions. They also say:

    How long before the claimant should be assessed again.
    Whether the same functional restrictions are likely to be present at the date of the next assessment.
    Whether the claimant is terminally ill.
    Whether they will need any help with a renewal claim due to, for example, a mental health condition.
    Whether anyone attended the consultation with the claimant and, if so, their relationship to the claimant.
    What type of health professional carried out the assessment.
    What the claimant’s main disabling condition is – for statistical purposes, not as part of the assessment.
    The HP also records what time the consultation started and ended and how much additional writing up time there was.

  8. #8
    Senior Member AmyS's Avatar
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    It goes to show how different our experiences are for the same process.

    My DLA to PIP, home visit, an hour and about ten minutes. Was asked to stand, had my walking stick next to me and commented something about great if I fall over today, I've got someone who can help me up. Similar to that... She quickly told me to sit down again. I did not have a physical examination.

    To me the assessor looked too young, but hey ho, that's probably me getting older.

    I do recall at some stage somewhere during the assessment, mentioning my son is a doctor, he's a Neuroscientist with a pharmacology degree.

    Quote Originally Posted by catlover View Post
    well it's been and gone.

    At the end she did ask if there was anything else I wanted to add but by then I couldn't really remember what I'd said and what I hadn't and obviously we couldn't go back over every activity so I just said no.
    Totally sympathise with this, I said 'no' at the end as well, my mind was whirling by then, what have I already said or not said did I say it correctly i.e. getting the point across.

    Amazing what I thought of after she left.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by catlover View Post
    LT - the propelling of a manual wheelchair is not relevant to PIP - I thing you're getting confused with ESA where I believe mobilising includes the ability to propel a manual wheelchair? The PIP moving about activity relates to walking only and I should qualify on speed alone
    That's correct. The latest version of the ESA activities refer to "mobilising", which is walking or self-propelling a manual wheelchair. The PIP "moving around" activity is solely about your ability to stand and walk.


    Thanks for posting your experience, catlover. I think these things are like exams - you never truly know how they have gone and you can always think of numerous ways afterwards where you could usefully have said or written more. All you can do is sit back and wait for a decision. If that is not the decision you were hoping for, I'm sure people will help with a reconsideration.

    Judging by the thoughtful posts you make in the forums, I have no doubt that you did your best to put forward a considered, detailed and carefully explained account of the effect your health conditions and disabilities have on your ability to carry out the PIP activities. Whilst this cannot guarantee success, it certainly helps.

  10. #10
    Senior Member catlover's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flymo View Post
    I have no doubt that you did your best to put forward a considered, detailed and carefully explained account of the effect your health conditions and disabilities have on your ability to carry out the PIP activities. Whilst this cannot guarantee success, it certainly helps.
    I didn't really get the chance to as she interrupted me mid sentence at least 50% of the time and did not give me the opportunity to finish the sentence after she had stopped typing. She wasn't interested in hearing about any of the daily living activities I had not mentioned in my application form. for example, I put on the original form that I had no problems with preparing and cooking food. On my updated form I explained that I did have some problems (and also why I had not mentioned these previously) so I tried to explain to her what problems I did have but she just cut me off and wasn't interested. I hope the DM will be a bit more understanding. It may be that the problems I have don't relate to any of the descriptors well enough to be awarded points for that activity but I think I should have been given a chance to explain briefly why I feel unable to prepare and cook meals.

    Thinking about the distance - I think she sat nearer 8 feet away than 6 feet. Certainly a distance that seemed impolite and awkward, especially given the angle that she was sat at. Nobody expects cups of tea, lol, but the assessor has a duty, surely, to conduct the assessment in a professional and courteous manner and imo that means making eye contact for most of the time. I did wonder whether the distance was to stop me reading what she was typing.

    I would imagine that each assessment is slightly different as each person has different problems, but I was not asked many of the questions others report being asked such as describing a typical day. I was not asked how I'd got there but I think she assumed I had driven there as I mentioned that I had a car at one point. When I was waiting for my taxi home she saw me and asked me why I was still there. I explained I was waiting for a taxi to which she responded that she thought I'd driven there. I hope she hasn't put on the report that I drove there.

    I can't go back and have it over again so will just have to wait and see. I did see this assessor when I was waiting (I was over half an hour early) and hoped I did not get her as she looked rather stern! When I was waiting to go home another assessor came out to photocopy some documents for someone and she seemed much friendlier - now why couldn't I have got her! These assessments don't seem to follow a template and I do wonder how much they are told about how to carry out the assessment and how much is down to the individual assessor.

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