Thursday, August 02, 2012

Breaking News - Possible New #WCA Descriptors!


As most of you probably know, the big problem with Work Capability Assessments are the descriptors.

However bad Atos might be at customer service, they did not write the 17 descriptors that decide whether or not you will be found eligible for Employment and Support Allowance, the replacement for Incapacity Benefit.

The DWP did.

Atos might have designed a computer programme as a framework for these descriptors, but they didn't write them.

The DWP did.

Atos might be asked to carry out an assessment, but they don't decide if you are fit for work or not.

The DWP do.

What does this mean? Well, it means that the Government wrote criteria that were so tough, so detached from reality, so blatantly designed to ensure that seriously ill or disabled people failed, it didn't matter who did the assessments - Atos or Coco the Clown - the results would be the same. (Some might argue the two examples are the same....)

The descriptors we use today,http://www.tameside.gov.uk/esa/wca mean that those with fluctuating conditions, mental health or learning disabilities find it almost impossible to be accurately assessed. As these are the conditions increasing around the world, a cynic might argue that it was entirely intentional. Please do take a moment to look at the descriptors used currently.

A week or so ago, we were sent a new set of descriptors anonymously that seemed to be significant improvement. We didn't know who had written them or whether there was any realistic chance that they would ever be used.

As you can see from the guest post on out blogs, It turns out that these were the descriptors suggested by the mental health charities, learning disabilites charities and charities representing those with fluctuating conditions.

We felt that it was only fair that you be given the chance to decide for yourselves what you think of the new descriptors. We are told that they may have changed over the last few weeks but that broadly, these are the descriptors that the DWP now say that they will test independently and fairly.

We also felt, once we had seen them, that Mind and other charities had made the correct decision to work with the DWP rather than walking way and leaving the testing to be done by the DWP alone, without any input from sick or disabled people.

We can only hope that these descriptors ARE closer to a model that will be used in the future as any improvement can only mean that millions of people currently undergoing an unfair and distressing process are more fairly treated.

As Mind have pointed out, these new descriptors are far from perfect, but those currently used are unfit for purpose and will never provide a fair and balanced outcome. 

From Sue and Kaliya 


PART 1

1. Mobilising
a. The claimant cannot reliably, repeatedly and safely, within a reasonable amount of time mobilise:
             Over at least 100m [or suitable alternative distances to attract lower points]
             On a variety of terrains, including steps and uneven as well as level ground
             Through a variety of working spaces, including negotiating doors and other entrances and exits
             To and from the workplace, and relevant work-related commitments, with some prior planning and adjustments
             Without significant discomfort, breathlessness or fatigue

b. This is the case:
i. More than 75% of the time

ii. Between 50% and 75% of the time

iii. Between 20% and 50% of the time


2. Standing and sitting
a. Cannot reliably, repeatedly and safely, using any aid that it is reasonable to expect them to use:
i. Move between one seated position and another seated position located next to one another without receiving physical assistance from another person.

ii. Remain at a work station, either:
a. Standing unassisted by another person (even if free to move around) or;
b. Sitting (even in an adjustable chair) for more than 30 minutes without significant discomfort, loss of balance or exhaustion

iii. Remain at a work station; either:
a. Standing unassisted by another person (even if free to move around) or;
b. Sitting (even in an adjustable chair) for more than an hour without significant discomfort, loss of balance or exhaustion.

b. This is the case            
i. More than 75% of the time

ii. Between 50% and 75% of the time

iii. Between 20% and 50% of the time


3. Reaching, picking up and moving
a. Due to difficulties with or restricted movement of upper body (arms, shoulders, back, neck) and/or lower body (hips, knees, ankles), cannot repeatedly, reliably and safely, without significant discomfort or exhaustion, from standing or sitting:
i. Reach up, down (i.e. through bending, kneeling or squatting) and sideways a reasonable distance

ii. Pick up and move a range of differently-sized objects up to 0.5kg

iii. Either reach up, down or sideways a reasonable distance; or reach and pick up and move a range of differently-sized objects up to 0.5kg

b.
i. with either hand

ii. with dominant hand

iii. with both hands


c. This is the case;                           
i. More than 75% of the time

ii. Between 50% and 75% of the time

iii. Between 20% and 50% of the time


4. Manual dexterity/ hand movement
a. Cannot reliably, repeatedly and safely, within a reasonable amount of time and without significant discomfort:
i. Grip and turn a door handle, tap and/or piece of equipment (such as a dial on a radio)

ii. Create a legible message or draw a diagram through the use of a pen or pencil

iii. Use a suitable keyboard or mouse

iv. Turn the pages of a book

v. Pick up and move a £1 coin (so as to put it into a slot in a machine/ box)

vi. Repeatedly press buttons, such as to dial a number on a telephone keypad

vii. Twist a lid or cap so as to open a jar or bottle.

viii. Carry out fine motor/ finger movement, such as to do up a button or tie a knot

b. To the extent that this is, without significant discomfort;
i. Impossible

ii. Very difficult

iii. Difficult

c. This is the case:
i. More than 75% of the time

ii. between 50% and 75% of the time

iii. between 25% and 50% of the time


5. Bladder/ bowel continence
a. Experiences unpredictable or recurrent loss of control leading to voiding of the bladder, extensive evacuation of the bowel or substantial leakage of the contents of a collecting device sufficient to require cleaning and a change of clothing and/or incontinence pads            Or

b. Without immediate access  to a toilet, suitably modified where appropriate, would experience loss of control leading to voiding of the bladder, extensive evacuation of the bowel or substantial leakage of a collecting device sufficient to require cleaning and a change of clothing and/or incontinence pads;

c. Experiences significant discomfort due to the need to evacuate the bladder or bowel or risks losing control if not able quickly to reach a toilet, suitably modified where appropriate

                And

                c. This is the case:
                                i. Most of the time (more than 75%)

                                ii. Some of the time (between 50% and 75%)

                                iii. Occasionally (between 20% and 50%)
PART 2

6. Learning Tasks
a. Is able to learn processes necessary to get a job and undertake tasks within it

b. Can learn tasks relevant to getting a job and to working;
i. with verbal or written instructions

ii. with guided practice

iii. Cannot even learn all necessary tasks

c. No longer requires support to repeat the task after;
i. one day

ii. one week

iii. one month

iv. Three months or more

7. Awareness of Hazards
a. Is fully aware of potential hazards

b. Without help and/or adjustments, risk(s) of injury to self or others, or of damage to property or possessions is likely to be;
i. Moderate

ii. Substantial

iii. Very substantial

c. The risks above are likely to arise;
i. Occasionally

ii. Frequently

iii. More often than not


8. Maintaining Focus
a. Is able to maintain focus without difficulty

b. Due to poor memory or concentration, needs help and/or adjustments in
maintaining focus on;
i. Some tasks

ii. Most tasks

iii. All tasks

c. When working on the tasks concerned for;
i. Most of the day

ii. A few hours

iii. An hour or less

d. Needs help and/or adjustments for this;
i. Occasionally

ii. Frequently    

iii. More often than not

9. Executing Tasks
a. Has no difficulty executing even complex tasks

b. Needs additional time to complete;
i. Some tasks

ii. Most tasks

iii. All tasks

c. Such that the task would take;
i. A little longer

ii. Substantially longer

iii. Much longer

d. This is an issue;
i. Occasionally

ii. Frequently

iii. More often than not

10. Managing Self and Schedule
a. Has no difficulties managing him/herself and his/her schedule

b. Because of difficulties in motivation or organisation, or distress, can only manage self and schedule to an acceptable standard with;
i. Some help and/or        adjustments

ii. Substantial help and/or adjustments

iii. Cannot manage at all

c. For;
i. Short periods

ii. Much of the day

iii. All day

d. Needs help and/or adjustments for this;
i. Occasionally

ii. Frequently

iii. More often than not

11. Coping with Change
a. Able to cope with minor planned changes to daily routine

b. Can only cope with minor planned changes to daily routine with;
i. Some help and/or adjustments

ii. Substantial help and/or adjustments

iii. Cannot cope at all

or

Can only cope with minor unplanned changes to daily routine with;
i. Some help and/or adjustments

ii. Substantial help and/or adjustments

iii. Cannot cope at all

c. Needs help and/or adjustments for this;
i. Occasionally

ii. Frequently

iii. More often than not

12. Getting About
a. Able to get to familiar places

b. Because of distress or disorientation, can only get to familiar places with;
i. Some help and/or adjustments

ii. Substantial help and/or adjustments

iii. Cannot make journeys at all

or

Because of distress or disorientation, can only get to unfamiliar places with;
i. Some help and/or adjustments

ii. Substantial help and/or adjustments

iii. Cannot make journeys at all

c. Needs help and/or adjustments for this;
i. Occasionally

ii. Frequently

iii. More often than not

13. Social Engagement
a. Is able to interact with people and engage socially

b. Because of difficulties interacting with others, anxiety, distress or other emotions, can only engage socially with;
i. Some help and/or adjustments

ii. Substantial help and/or adjustments

iii. Cannot engage socially at all

c. Difficulties in interaction and engagement occur with people
i. Unknown to the person

ii. Known to the person

iii. Familiar to the person

d. Needs help and/or adjustments for this;
i. Occasionally

ii. Frequently

iii. More often than not

14. Appropriateness of Behaviour
a. Does not display behaviour which work colleagues would consider inappropriate

b. May display physically aggressive, verbally aggressive or socially inappropriate behaviour unless he/she has;
                i. Some help and/or adjustments

ii. Substantial help and/or adjustments

iii. Behaviour not amenable to help or support

c. The nature of this behaviour tends to be;
i. Mild

ii. Moderate

iii. Severe

d. Needs help and/or adjustments for this;
i. Occasionally

ii. Frequently

iii. More often than not

15. Communicating with Others
a. Has no difficulties with communication or social understanding

b. In order to communicate and to show social understanding, needs;
i. Some help and/or adjustments

ii. Substantial help and/or adjustments

iii. Communication is not amenable to help or support

c. Needs help and/or adjustments during;
i. Some communication

ii. Most communication

iii. All communication

d. Needs help and/or adjustments for this;
i. Occasionally

ii. Frequently

iii. More often than not

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great to see Regularly, Reliably, Safely in the descriptors, finally, instead of just concealed in the regulations and thus often ignored. Not perfect, but much much better.

What counts though is the targets, as we learned on Ch4's Dispatches and the BBC's Panorama this Monday. How can it be fair to decide in advance of assessing them, how many people are to be supported?

Jane/jace

Anonymous said...

The assessment in any form is prejudiced if you have targets. You can change them 100 times. It has to be fair with no targets. Also the questionaire which is the application requests medical evidence. If so why dont the so called assessors use them. 5 mins it takes.

Also prior to the referral from dwp to hatos where and when did anybody put in a claim for ESA?

Bottom line is this. Its fraud on the dwp's part. Plain and simple.

Those who have sadly lossed family members need to start taking out private prosecutions against dwp and hatos staff involved in the process. As the polish trainer said in the dispatches show, its ok to make mistakes, nothing happens to us.

Grayling is a compulsive liar. He has lied for many. He does not know what the truth is. IDS is not as bad as him he did stop Osborne the devil re incarnated from slashing 10 billion more.

People theres more of us then them. Stand up for your rights. Hatos facilities infringe the equalities act. If it was joe publics business the govt would shut it down.

Remember these are public servants elected by us. God knows who would vote for the tories though.

Kaliya, your a star. You have been at the front from the start. You are a inspiration to many many people. Even in the darkest of moments God sheds a light upon us all in the form of a angel and that is what you are kaliya, a Angel.

Keep smiling

Redmakka

misspiggy said...

Have posted comments on Suey's blog but just wanted to say hooray and well done to everyone involved. Let's cautiously wait to see what happens now.

Anonymous said...

Cautious is the correct word. Keep the fight going. Nobody should stop. Until it is proper legislation, and certain individuals are held accountable like Grayling the fight is not over.

We owe it not just to ourselves but those who went through this nasty, immoral, fraudulant process and had their entitlements stopped and those who died.

Regards

Redmakka

Tanya Marlow said...

Cautiously positive about these, but it really depends on how many 'points' they award to each thing. As we've seen with the new PIP descriptors, it's useless having descriptors on there that don't qualify you for benefits in and of themselves. If you have to score lots of points in lots of different areas, then people will be stuck.

If people can't mobilise themselves to get to a workplace, then they should be described as unfit to work, whether or not they can also pick up a pound coin, move an empty cardboard box or juggle 3 bananas. I very much hope that the government will tackle the real issue, which is that any cuts in the welfare budget should come from fraudulent housing benefit or JSA claims, not from sick and vulnerable people.

Nancy Farrell said...

The cognitive function section doesn't look that different to the current ones they are using I was given by CAB. And the ATOS assessor wrote down the opposite of what I said and failed to award me points in at least three areas I should have got them in resulting in me not even making the work related activity group. This is my bone of contention with ATOS, no matter what the guidelines are if the assessors ignore what people say and write down something different the decision maker can only go by what they say. And from what I'm hearing this is common practice with people of all conditions not just mental health.

Anonymous said...

Looks promising, though as we know other factors involved. Thanks for all you do!
Ramalina

Anonymous said...

NOT to be trusted.

Time the whole of what used to be known as 'Medical Services' was bought back under public control!

Bee G said...

Interesting article.... although for people with EDS / HMS and other invisible / little known disabilities, the criteria still evades most of the issues we face on a daily basis... yes I can still pick up a coin (although I am allergic to them!) and I can still turn a doorknob or book pages... but both my rotator cuffs are torn, my arms are agony to use, my walking is limited and every step is painful, my joints pop out without any prior notice / warning, every day is unpredicable... it is pot luck as to what will or wont be subluxating, and whether I can or cant lift an item, or walk any particular distance. I cannot drive or safely take public transport, and there is no public transort in my area anyway!! So I CANNOT get anywhere without a huge amount of forward planning, calling in favours and arguments with my mother who is forced to drive me to all of these appts.... SO even just attending these ridiculously innaccurate assessments and pointless work related interviews proves extremely difficult, if not impossible! In response to Tanya Marlows comment above,
"If people can't mobilise themselves to get to a workplace, then they should be described as unfit to work, whether or not they can also pick up a pound coin, move an empty cardboard box or juggle 3 bananas. I very much hope that the government will tackle the real issue, which is that any cuts in the welfare budget should come from fraudulent housing benefit or JSA claims, not from sick and vulnerable people" THANKYOU... I could NOT have said that any better myself... you hit the nail on the head!

There is so much more that the DWP need to take into consideration in order to fairly and accurately assess our disabilities and ability to work... but I guess accuracy and fairness is exactly what they wish to avoid.

hossylass said...

How would people feel about the concerns about Atos staff behaviour being presented to Atos?

And what would you like to happen?

Given that the criteria stink, are there other concerns, such as maybe;
Even without targets the assessor was awful?
The assessor didn't seem retrospectively to understand?

And if you won at appeal, can you identify that the assessor was wrong given the descriptors, or was wrong in an different way?

Did they fail to sit back and really ask themselves the question;
Is this person in front of me now fit for any work at all?

We need to change an awful lot of things about the WCA, but we need to sort the wheat from the chaff before Grayling starts his investigation, which he hinted at this week.

There is much work to be done, I am hoping that the disabled community see this as THEIR work and help by providing facts.

Maybe we could have a survey that identifies where people feel the system went wrong?

This smacks of doing Atos's job for them, but maybe, just maybe, they are totally ignorant of their failings because few people have managed to get their complaints across in a quantative way.

Behind the anger, we must show that we have more common sense than an entire Government - shouldn't be too hard!

Anonymous said...

All this was supposed to be helping the disabled / incapacitated and of course save money for the gov. I cannot see where on earth there is any saving in this , it must be costing millions upon millions for every sick person to be seen and re-seen by Atos and doctors and specialists. Not to mention the Tribunals, all helping to make each and every sick person even sicker due to the stress and strain of it all. Yet more strain on the Doctors and Health authorities. The Government have got this DEVASTATINGLY wrong. It should be classed as crime against the most Vulnerable people in society.!!!!!!!!!!!!Disgusting behaviour!

Anonymous said...

It is ATOS who carry out the assessments, and the accuracy/quality of that assessment is massively affected by the competence of the assessor. I support a friend with mental illhealth at his ATOS ESA assessments and have had to repeatedly correct what the assessor wrote as my friend's answers. The assessor repeatedly misinterpreted my friend's answers, and failed to clarify when my friend misunderstood what he was being asked. If I had not been there he would have lost his ESA, as has happened in the past. It's as if the money (all £67 a week) were coming out of his pocket. He tried to tell me I wasn't allowed to speak at all, except for right at the end, I carefully explained my role as my friend's advocate and that I would be speaking throughout the assessment. It was very, very frustrating.

Anonymous said...

The moment we fill that questionaire (application form) we are screwed. But the fear of losing entitlements is too much. I made the error. If i could go back in time I would then tell em thank you for the offer of esa but im happy with what i have and now f off and leave me alone. We have more power than we can ever imagine. But first and foremost we must release the fear we have. We are slaves basically. They are ok for us to pick up the tab for wars and bailing out the banks via taxes but when we need help we dispensible

Regards

Redmakka

Stefania Rulli-Gibbs said...

Thank you, Kaliya, for fighting also for the rights of people with Learning Disabilities, and for all those other disabled people whose voice is not as loud as yours. x

Nessie King said...

Thank you for doing this work Sue and Kaliyah.

My feeling is its all academic. At this stage the training of ATOS doctors has taken place and sanctions are being used against them if they find more than a certain percentage of those they assess as needing Support Group. That dirty little secret is out now. Changing the wording of the descriptors will do nothing to change that culture now.

Tisme

Anonymous said...

I would point out that there needs to be some consideration of the local needs of the person being assessed eg many cities are built on hills so they will have difficulties that don't exist in parts of East Anglia, for example.
Rural areas have limited public transport and may not have online supermarket services.
People who have no family or who live a long way from their family may require different levels of support to those who can get family members to help.

The WCA is flawed, fatally, because it is a test of the person not the society in which they live.

L S McKnight

Anonymous said...

Too late for me. Heading for tribunal, just got DWP 'bundle' explaining their decision. I've been ill, fluctuating and invisibly, but always at a pretty high level of illness, and used wheelchair for 25 years, spend all but two or three hours per day lying down, in constant pain and exhaustion blah blah blah; it even bores me after all these years. Haven't been in paid work of most of my adult life because too ill (before we even get to discrimination), which makes the most part of 28 years. But apparently - thanks to the ministerings of the DWP - I am cured, since 'the evidence' says I have absolutely no symptoms at all. None.

Since I was transferred from invalidity benefit, I never had an ATOS assessment, so all they had to go on was my ESA form, plus a brief note from my GP telling them it was all in the form. So either they didn't read the form, or they think I'm lying. In the latter, or if they had doubts, why didn't they send me to ATOS for an "objective" "independent" medical assessment? And if there are no symptoms whatsoever, why am I even on ESA at all?

I've been waiting for the tribunal for nine months and why would I imagine the tribunal will see anything different from DWP? Let's be honest, I am fucked.

Eightdiverging said...

Same it still doesn't cover "not being aggressive/inappropriate but being considered aggressive/inappropriate by others regardless of behaviour".

A lot of autistics are often deemed aggressive or inappropriate for such awful things such as refusing to give in to bullying, asserting our rights, having a flat tone, excetra.