A major review of the new assessment arrangements for individuals seeking benefits has been undertaken by Sense, the charity which promotes the interest of individuals who are dual sensory impaired.
They have concluded that the new disability living allowance (DLA) arrangements under a trial of the assessment process to be “stressful” and “inconsistent”.
The personal independence payment is due to replace DLA in 2013 and the charity found that the system is simply not sufficiently adapted to meet the need of ta deafblind client group
Deafblind people who volunteered for the trials said information such as welcome packs and feedback forms were sometimes provided in inaccessible formats, despite assessors being informed of participants’ communication preferences beforehand.
Several participants received the welcome pack one day before the assessment, not allowing enough time to read the information before their appointment. Where the welcome pack was not sent out in an accessible format, participants had little time to ask for support from another person to read it.
People’s experiences around communication support during the assessments were mixed. One teenager had to rely on her mother to clarify the complex jargon used by an assessor, while another participant said he had been unable to read the name badge of the assessor, leading to a potential security risk had he been on his own.
Community Care quoted one participant who was completely deafblind man from Lancashire who was asked to lift his arms as high as he could and grip the assessor’s hand as hard as possible.
The participant said he wanted to tell his assessor: “Close your eyes. Cover your ears. Now consider how you would have managed today after waking up this morning. How would you have made sure you have the right clothes on? How would you have travelled to work? How would you have gone out for lunch?”
Sense said the government needed to ensure that the PIP assessment covered mobility and communication needs, not just physical impairments and personal care.
The Sense findings have joined a growing number of voices which are calling upon the Government to urgently review the whole process which increasingly serves to treat disabled people in a one size fits all approach, to be delivered by unskilled assessors and to be inherently discriminatory in nature.
Source: Sense and Community Care
Dr Donald Macaskill