Archive for July, 2013

Help finding your WCA assessment centre

This post gives you information about how best to find your way to a Work Capability Assessment (WCA) assessment centre.  Most of the people who get referred to us by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for a WCA will have a face to face assessment in an assessment centre.  If you do, you will receive a letter telling you when and where your appointment will be.

The WCA Appointment Letter

The letter you receivAtos-Healthcare-directions-manchester-mape will have with it a page of directions covering various modes of transport, as well as a map of the area around the centre. In addition to this we have all of the sites listed on our website with similar travel information and an interactive map.  You are able to change your appointment once, so if you think that you would have difficulties in attending the centre on your appointment letter, it may be possible to change to a centre that is easier for you to get to.  You can do this by calling us on 0800 2888 777.  Generally you will have been allocated to the centre that is nearest to your home address and within 90 minutes travel time by public transport.

The availability of things like parking are covered in the information on each site.  It is worth checking to seAtos-Healthcare-directions-one-waye if you need to phone ahead to access a disabled parking space, or if you need to change to a site that is more accessible for you.  We are constantly working with the DWP to improve the sites that are available to us and welcome feedback you have on aspects of the site you visit.  Detailed information on claiming expenses for your journey to the assessment centre can be found in our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) pages.

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How new additional medical information is used during a Work Capability Assessment

Previously on this blog we have written about the importance of additional medical information to the work capability assessment (WCA) process.  This post expands on what is considered to be relevant information, and how any information you bring in at the face to face assessment stage is used.

Medical information that is relevant to the WCA processAtos-Healthcare-relevant-medical-info-post

The sort of information that is relevant to the WCA process is anything that provides further insight into how you personally are affected by your illness or disability.  This is useful because people with the same diagnosis can be affected in different ways, depending on things like varying severities, and how long someone has had to adapt to their circumstances. So, if you have copies of any outpatient clinic letters, x-ray or scan results, or anything else that contains medical information about you, please bring them along.

You do not, however, need to provide information which is more general and does not refer to you personally, such as printouts of internet pages about your medical conditions or treatments. This is because the healthcare professional who reviews your case is interested in how you personally are affected by your problems.

The Work Capability Assessment is designed to assess what a person is, or is not, able to do in terms of common everyday activities and actions, rather than in diagnosing someone or confirming any existing diagnoses.

How medical information brought into the face to face assessment is usedAtos-Healthcare-relevant-medical-info-photocopier

Generally, the earlier in the process that you provide medical information, the better.  Every referral that starts the assessment process gets reviewed by a health care professional (HCP), and it might be the case that advice can be given without needing a face to face assessment.  We have previously described this process in more depth on this blog.   However, if you are asked to attend a face to face assessment you can still bring in any evidence that you didn’t provide before.  This will be especially useful if it is recent information.  We have also produced a checklist that you might want to use to help you remember what else to bring.

When you bring written information to the face to face assessment the HCP will review it at the start of the assessment.  They will look at what you have brought, and if appropriate it will help to direct part of the discussion you go on to have.  The HCP will not necessarily read every item in depth when you give it to them, but they will read anything that is relevant before finishing their report.  With your permission, items will be copied and included in your file so that they are available to the DWP Decision Maker when they decide on your entitlement to ESA.

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The role of claimant feedback in the WCA process

Atos Healthcare has been carrying out disability assessments for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for over fifteen years.  Using our experience and practical understanding of the assessment process, we have supported the DWP in the introduction of many changes to various benefits.

As with all change, we learn and improve along the way and we work hard to make sure the service we deliver is consistent and does exactly what the DWP expects. Atos-Healthcare-claimant-feedback-form1

Whilst policy and the design of the process are areas that we do not control, we are able to review the aspects of the service within our control to see if we can do any better.  Customer feedback is invaluable and we gather feedback in a variety of ways.

Gathering Customer Feedback

Each month a sample of the people who have been asked to attend a face to face assessment as part of the ESA Work Capability Assessment (WCA) are sent a survey asking them about their experience.  In addition to scoring various aspects of the service, such as the ease of rearranging an appointment, there is also the opportunity to give more specific feedback.  This can include how they felt they were treated by contact centre staff, assessment centre staff and health care professionals as well as feedback on things such as the facilities and quality of information provided.

The survey is carried out by an independent company so all feedback is received by an impartial third party.

Every month the results are reviewed and any specific feedback is passed on to the relevant manager who must then consider if action can be taken to improve.

Complaints

Complaints are another valuable source of general feedback.  Every complaint is taken seriously and given individual attention until it is investigated and a response has been sent to the person who complained.  At a higher level, the themes from the complaints we receive are then regularly reviewed so that we can identify any areas for attention or improvement.

PAtos-Healthcare-claimant-feedback-faqositive Feedback

As well as formal feedback routes, we also value more anecdotal feedback.  We are developing a greater presence online and the everyday chatter and questions on social media and on forums are also something we take seriously as a source of feedback on our service.   And finally, everyone who has had a WCA can contact our customer relations team with feedback about their experience.  We do receive positive feedback from people and we make sure it reaches the person or teams who are mentioned – this kind of feedback also helps us to spread best practice.  And, if we receive feedback about negative experiences with our service, we use it to direct attention to any issues and resolve them, as well as responding directly to the person who raised it.

Examples of some of the changes that have been made as a result of feedback are:

  • Better information on directions to ESA assessment centres
  • A change to the criteria in the journey planner system we use to limit the number of changes on public transport
  • Changes to the format of letters to make them more accessible
  • Additions to our website FAQs to include various pieces of new information
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