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upcoming pip review assessment for MH, requesting reasonable adjustments question

Drausus
Drausus Community member Posts: 12 Connected
edited January 16 in PIP, DLA, and AA
Hello everyone,

I will start by saying I am sorry for my condition right now, I am sitting here in tears with nobody else to turn to for advice, there is so much conflicting information online I really have no clue what to do or the best way to approach my issue.

I get overwhelmed very easily and the text I received alone has caused me non stop anxiety and panic attacks. the phycological distress is just to much for me to handle, my mental health has been declining rapidly over the past couple of years from loosing my mum, granddad and most recently my grandmother. 

I suffer from long standing GAD, PTSD, Social phobia, OCD and acrophobia with panic attacks.

I have been claiming PIP for the past 5 years and am now within the review process, which started February 2023, nearly 1 year of extreme anxiety waking and hoping for a letter of positive award, this is my 2nd review.

I received a text yesterday from the Independent Assessment Services stating that i have a phone consultation booked for 9am on the 30th of Jan.

My first question is, can I request under the equality act 2010 a reasonable adjustment for the assessment, the first being requesting that the healthcare professional to be a specialist in mental health? I have seen to many posts and news articles about these so called health professionals not being specialist at all, and mental health as some of you will know is very complex and is completely different for each person, so I do not trust them to use their own health professionals at all. 

My 2nd question is a bit weird but what would you recommend I do in regards to the venue of the assessment, I have come across many bad results on this forum from telephone assessments particularly on Mental Health descriptors.
If the claimant has difficulty socialising and planning and following but is sitting securely in their home on the phone during assessment, it stands to reason the decision making will be compromised! A problem which is only going to get worse and cause difficulties for many vulnerable people? 

Comments

  • kitkat23
    kitkat23 Community member Posts: 48 Courageous
    Hi ....that wouldn't be a reasonable adjustment though...it would be your request.....I would always go for a telephone assessment...but it depends on the individual ....hope all goes well 
  • Drausus
    Drausus Community member Posts: 12 Connected
    Thank you kindly for your reply, this is all overwhelming me already :(
    My main argument is that their staff are not trained enough to be able to assess me correctly
    I would have thought the following would have applied?

    Under s.20 EA 2010 SSWP and SSWP’S contractors (here [IAS]) have a duty to make reasonable adjustments in the way assessments for PIP are carried out to avoid disadvantage to claimants with disabilities.

    Requesting adjustments to the PIP assessment to suit your needs:

    When you receive your PIP assessment appointment letter, you can check with your assessment provider that your assessment centre has everything you require to make you feel more comfortable. For example, you can request:

    The healthcare professional to be a specialist in mental health

    If they refuse, you can complain to the assessment centre, DWP, or ask your M.P. to intervene on your behalf. In some cases, you might be able to Argue that they are discriminating against you, which means claiming that they are treating you unfairly because of your disability or health condition. You can use the Equality Act 20102 as a legal basis for your argument, which protects you from discrimination in accessing services and public functions.
    so am i wrong in thinking it would be asking for a reasonable adjustment, because it is not a preference, it is a protection to avoid overwhelming phycological distress from being assessed by someone who is not qualified enough, because of my complex mix of mental health issues, thus putting me at a disadvantage because of my disabilities?

  • Drausus
    Drausus Community member Posts: 12 Connected
    edited January 16
    sorry double posted
  • Nashota
    Nashota Community member Posts: 71 Courageous
    This is interesting to me because I also have the same conditions as you pretty much and I struggle so much to speak to people to the point where I can even disassociate which means I'll just give answers without proper explanation just to get rid of the person causing me stress, it happened at my last review. I rarely go out and I only speak to my son and on occasions my mum because of how overwhelmed people make me feel.

    I'm going to send a letter with my form when it's time for my review requesting a paper based assessment with an explanation about my mental health and the fact that it would cause me a lot of unnecessary stress etc. We stated more or less the same on my ESA50 and I was given a paper based assessment for that, however, I know these benefits are different and that I won't necessarily be granted a paper based one for PIP but it's worth a try isn't it.

    I've bookmarked your post so I can come back and have a look.
  • Drausus
    Drausus Community member Posts: 12 Connected
    edited January 16
    Nashota said:
    I struggle so much to speak to people to the point where I can even disassociate which means I'll just give answers without proper explanation just to get rid of the person causing me stress, it happened at my last review. I rarely go out and I only speak to my son and on occasions my mum because of how overwhelmed people make me feel.
    That is exactly my issue also, and is the reason I am asking for a mental health specialist, because I try to end any phone call asap so will also say anything just to end the conversation  

  • woodbine
    woodbine Community member Posts: 11,287 Disability Gamechanger
    I really don't think it matters if the HCP is an expert/specialist in your field, after all they are basically going through a list of questions on the computer screen in front of them, I have had assessments for PIP (one face to face one tele) and a face to face ESA assessment, non of them were specialist in my condition(s) and I didn't expect them to be. For all three I thought the reports were fair and accurate and the awards as expected.
    I'm sure that  RA to get a specialist is unrealistic, and many of us have found telephone assessments better than face to face for different reasons.
    It's not unusual for a review to take a year my OH's recently took 14 months.
    And do remember that PIP isn't about your condition(s) but your care and/or mobility issues v the descriptors.
    But good luck hope all goes well as it does for the majority.
    2024 The year of the general election...the time for change is coming 💡

  • Drausus
    Drausus Community member Posts: 12 Connected
    edited January 17
    Thank you for your reply, but i disagree, they should have Mental health specialist on their staff, There are far to many different types of mental illnesses, and each person has their own version of that illness, for me my social anxiety keeps me locked away i my bed most the time.

    My first assessment was face to face with a mental health nurse, it was hard but they could see in person how badly i was coping with the questions, with telephone assessments they cannot see your distress. 

    I find it impossible to express myself, posting here on this forum is hard enough because i know everyone that reads this is judging me, that feeling is overwhelming.

    I have not been able to sleep since Monday after receiving the appointment text message, all my family that fully understood my conditions have all passed away within the last 3 years. I have nobody to help me, i had 5 extensions returning my pip review form because i could not answer any questions in a limited way, i kept giving to much irrelevant information, I am unable to express myself, the only people that have been able to diagnose me correctly have been mental health experts, So I really cannot understand how someone from the assessment company can correctly assess me with little training in mental health, just reading the .gov website about the training they undergo has scared me immensely.
      
  • Substantialmind
    Substantialmind Community member Posts: 7 Listener
    I recently had my assessment I have same diagnosis on mental health but because I’ve chose. Not to amass a load of evidence they acted like my mental health issues were fine therefore scoring me zero on some categories.  I’ve now referred myself to mental health clinic to start amassing paperwork needed. 
  • Remina
    Remina Community member Posts: 75 Courageous
    Sadly it's luck of the draw with who is assessing you, I was in a similar position - worried about having a phone assessment because they wouldn't be able to visually ''see'' how badly my issues effect me.. However when the phone call finally came I was lucky enough to have a very kind, patient and understanding lady who was doing the assessment, at the end of the phone call she even told me ''Please don't worry, I'm making the reccomendation that your award stays exactly the same''. Low and behold I was awarded it, enhanced rate until 2026.

    Just have to stay positive and hopefully you'll be assessed by someone with kindness, empathy and understanding. 
  • Drausus
    Drausus Community member Posts: 12 Connected
    I recently had my assessment I have same diagnosis on mental health but because I’ve chose. Not to amass a load of evidence they acted like my mental health issues were fine therefore scoring me zero on some categories.  I’ve now referred myself to mental health clinic to start amassing paperwork needed. 
    I am terribly sorry to hear that! that sickens me and I know I will end up in the same place.  I was 2 years ago under the care of the community mental health team, then I was discharged to go onto the waiting list for trauma based therapy, at the time of offering me an appointment them offering me an appointment my grandad had just been diagnosed with aggressive bowl cancer, so I was discharged from them with the recommendation for my GP to do a rapid re-referral when I felt ready, this turned into a massive nightmare.

    My GP was unable to directly refer me to the psychology and psychological therapies team, this apparently could only be done by the community mental health team that I had already been discharged from, not in a good way either, as I felt tricked into agreeing to go on the waiting list for trauma based therapy under the false promise that my then mental health care coordinator would give me weekly calls to check in on me and continue to help me mentally, there was also other issues I had with that team stemming from again false promises. 
    So when my GP told me I had to go back to them (CMHT) for a re-assessment to see if the therapy was still suitable for me (another 6 month waiting list). This is when I tried to fight this unexpected extra step to get the help I needed, even involving my local MP, I personally had given up on my mental health treatment from the way my discharge went, but when I lost my grandad, my Nan's focus went on me so because of her ( the only person I live for anymore) I agreed to to fight for this, but the whole system is broken from the core, When she passes away, I know I will just give up on life if I can gain the stones to.
    anyway If I was you I would go to talking therapy's to see if they can dig out any  historic records that may help you, they can at least asses you and start to issue you reports that may help you.
  • Drausus
    Drausus Community member Posts: 12 Connected
    Remina said:
    Sadly it's luck of the draw with who is assessing you, I was in a similar position - worried about having a phone assessment because they wouldn't be able to visually ''see'' how badly my issues effect me.. However when the phone call finally came I was lucky enough to have a very kind, patient and understanding lady who was doing the assessment, at the end of the phone call she even told me ''Please don't worry, I'm making the reccomendation that your award stays exactly the same''. Low and behold I was awarded it, enhanced rate until 2026.

    Just have to stay positive and hopefully you'll be assessed by someone with kindness, empathy and understanding. 
    Thank you, I wish i had any faith in the system but this so far has caused me to not sleep or eat for the last 3 days since receiving the appointment text message, I thought bringing up the equality act normally worried the management under fear of indirect discrimination because of my needs,
    My GP has written a letter today for me to forward to them stating that a phone assessment in my case I would not be able to cope and give an accurate assessment over the phone as it cause extreme psychological distress, and on medical grounds requests a paper based assessment and to ask him for any information they need as he has been my GP for over 10 years, and knows my capabilities (he has a copy of my pip review and agrees with my answers). This will probably get me no where I just want to give up. 
  • TheManFromLondon
    TheManFromLondon Community member Posts: 104 Pioneering
    @Drausus FYI all nurses and paramedics who have got a basic all-round course on Mental Health that barely touches the basics if MH such as Autism, OCD, Anxiety etc are considered specialists for these assessments. I most cases they have got that "minimal" training anyway wherever they studied. You will never get a Psychologist or Psychiatrist for these assessments. At tribunal you may get the specialist you actually refer to, (I know a GP, NHS etc would call specialist a Doctor of MH, but here that wont happen) but at this stage you only get nurses and paramedics. It would be impossible to get a Psychiatrist or Psychologist or even an active Counsellor for that job. Just thin the waiting times to see one such specialist, and then consider how much they are paid per 45 minutes. It will never happen.

    With all that said, I had assessments for PIP and UC and had zero problems, because apart from having that minimum training, they also follow a series of ticks on their software (for a lack of a better word) to establish valid reasons to conclude MH struggles, such as the applicant reporting having difficulty mixing with others + having Autism, which leads to positive conclusion automatically (literally automatically, the software does it).
  • honestjon
    honestjon Community member Posts: 110 Pioneering
    Drausus said:
    Hello everyone,

    I will start by saying I am sorry for my condition right now, I am sitting here in tears with nobody else to turn to for advice, there is so much conflicting information online I really have no clue what to do or the best way to approach my issue.

    I get overwhelmed very easily and the text I received alone has caused me non stop anxiety and panic attacks. the phycological distress is just to much for me to handle, my mental health has been declining rapidly over the past couple of years from loosing my mum, granddad and most recently my grandmother. 

    I suffer from long standing GAD, PTSD, Social phobia, OCD and acrophobia with panic attacks.

    I have been claiming PIP for the past 5 years and am now within the review process, which started February 2023, nearly 1 year of extreme anxiety waking and hoping for a letter of positive award, this is my 2nd review.

    I received a text yesterday from the Independent Assessment Services stating that i have a phone consultation booked for 9am on the 30th of Jan.

    My first question is, can I request under the equality act 2010 a reasonable adjustment for the assessment, the first being requesting that the healthcare professional to be a specialist in mental health? I have seen to many posts and news articles about these so called health professionals not being specialist at all, and mental health as some of you will know is very complex and is completely different for each person, so I do not trust them to use their own health professionals at all. 

    My 2nd question is a bit weird but what would you recommend I do in regards to the venue of the assessment, I have come across many bad results on this forum from telephone assessments particularly on Mental Health descriptors.
    If the claimant has difficulty socialising and planning and following but is sitting securely in their home on the phone during assessment, it stands to reason the decision making will be compromised! A problem which is only going to get worse and cause difficulties for many vulnerable people? 

    The assessment is a chance for you to say anything that you want to say about how your condition affects you so in your situation it might be a good idea to mention to the assessor that you would not be able to travel to an assessment and you needed a telephone assessment.
    That gives an example of how your condition stops you from doing things you would like to do.

  • Nashota
    Nashota Community member Posts: 71 Courageous
    edited January 17
    When I had my first assessment my assessor was a physio but she took into account my mental health conditions and I was awarded mainly based on my mental health conditions with some points in mobility, it was the second HCP I had for my review that tried to clear away my struggles with my mental health.

    As for evidence it doesn't matter how much you send them, I sent hardly any for my first assessment and as I said above, the assessor took everything into account, not only that, I doubt they would read it all anyway, plus only you can tell them how you cope on a day to day basis which is why it's best to do this on your form with real world examples of what has happened when you have done/tried etc.

    There's more info on the forum on how to fill out forms I believe.

    I hope the GP letter helps!! Please update us.
  • Nashota
    Nashota Community member Posts: 71 Courageous
    edited January 17
    Drausus said:
    Nashota said:
    I struggle so much to speak to people to the point where I can even disassociate which means I'll just give answers without proper explanation just to get rid of the person causing me stress, it happened at my last review. I rarely go out and I only speak to my son and on occasions my mum because of how overwhelmed people make me feel.
    That is exactly my issue also, and is the reason I am asking for a mental health specialist, because I try to end any phone call asap so will also say anything just to end the conversation  

    It's hard work isn't it, trying to explain in writing was causing me a shedload of anxiety and I ended up getting help from a guide from a well known site and asking a couple of people who do forms for a living to check it over for me before I sent my ESA50, I'll do that with my PIP form as well. I get so overwhelmed at the thought of having to sit and tell a stranger how I am on a daily basis verbally because I know I won't be able to do it. Even my GP practice have acknowledged that I need a "communication partner" now which I noticed they added to my medical records recently (It should have been added a while ago but I'm having issues with the practice).
  • Becka12
    Becka12 Community member Posts: 3 Connected
    I m sorry for all the stress you are going through, it still amazes me this system causes us stress when we already suffer from this and is run by intelligent people. I had a face to face pip review by a non specialist and also very prejudice not purely against MH claimants but all, def in the wrong job if you look down on people needing to claim benefits. Both the local CAB, Mind and carers groups have a complaint against this assessment centre so i fully back asking for a specialist or for the person to ask relevant questions for our individual MH diagnosis. I hope it goes well for you and you get a really good assessor with a professional attitude, they are out there.

    I was wondering, as we have just had a pandemic and everyone was at home working on zoom or microsoft teams, could they offer a zoom call so you have a face to speak to and they can also have the benefit of seeing your facial reactions? I know this is still not ideal but telephone assessments don't suit us all and also 2 psychologists that i had to "see" during the pandemic said they couldn't work over the phone and needed to see my face, they set up zoom, surely they know what they are talking about, so screen call may be possible? Good luck with this!
  • Rosie_Scope
    Rosie_Scope Posts: 1,618 Scope online community team
    That's a great outcome @Drausus. It's frustrating that it takes so much extra admin to get what you need, but I'm really glad you were able to get things sorted with your MP. Thanks for sharing what you've been through :)
    Rosie (she/her)

    Online Community Coordinator @ Scope

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  • Nashota
    Nashota Community member Posts: 71 Courageous
    That's brilliant @Drausus thanks for the update! I'll have to do this for my review! Although the local MP here is a bit pants honestly but I'd try him again if I needed to.

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