We know that if you have a face to face Work Capability Assessment (WCA) coming up you are likely to have lots of questions about the process. One of the most common questions is “what is the assessment like?”
This blog post aims to give you an idea of what to expect from your WCA.
Before the assessment
The health care professional you meet at your face to face assessment will always have prepared by looking through your file to ensure they’re familiar with all the details you’ve provided so far on your medical condition(s). This includes your completed ESA50 questionnaire, which you’ll have filled out and returned before the assessment, as well any further medical evidence, like a letter you’ve submitted from your GP for example.
During the assessment
There are a number of different elements to the WCA. Unlike previous conversations you may have had with your GP and others which were focused on diagnosing and treating your condition(s), all elements of the WCA are about understanding how your condition(s) affect your day to day life.
1. Meeting your assessor and an introduction to the process
The health care professional who’ll be carrying out your assessment will meet you in the waiting room and accompany you to the assessment room. There, the first thing he or she will do is explain what’ll happen during the assessment, and what each section is for.
They’ll also explain about the report they need to fill in during the assessment with your help and what information they’ll be gathering. This does mean that they’ll need to be typing as you talk during parts of the assessment, to make sure they don’t miss anything and that they’re making an accurate record of the information you’re providing. They’ll also explain what happens after the assessment.
You’ll have a chance to ask any questions you might have at this point, and you’ll also be encouraged to ask any questions you have or raise any concerns as you go. It’s your assessment so the health care professional will do everything they can to make you feel at ease.
2. Discussing your medical condition(s)
The health care professional will then ask you about your medical condition(s). A lot of this may be information you’ve already included in the ESA50 questionnaire you’ve filled in, but this will be a chance to talk about what may have changed since you completed the questionnaire.
They’ll ask questions to understand your current symptoms and how frequently you experience these. They’ll also ask about any medication you’re taking and any side effects you’re experiencing.
Next they’ll move on to chatting about your situation at home, such as who you live with and any accessibility issues you might have, like going up and down stairs. They’ll also be keen to hear about any work you’ve done in the past or are currently doing, and any difficulties you’ve experienced while doing them.
3. The ‘typical day’ assessment
This is the main part of the assessment and will be the element the health care professional spends the most time on. They’ll ask you to talk about your daily routine in detail – what you can and can’t do due to your health problems, or what you struggle to do. This allows them to get a good understanding of your daily routine and how your condition affects you.
During this part of the assessment the health care professional may ask you some quite detailed questions about your daily life that you may not have been asked before by other health care professionals. This is so they can make the most accurate assessment of the impact of your condition and they’ll always be happy to explain why they’re asking if you have any concerns.
4. The physical examination
Depending on the nature of your condition, you might then be asked for your permission to carry out a physical examination. This is a simple and not at all intensive examination – it’s not meant to make a diagnosis but instead to look at how your condition affects you physically. At most you might be asked to remove outer clothing layers, but nothing else.
This examination isn’t like one you might have had at the GP where the doctor would have physically manipulated your joints for example. Here, the health care professional will ask you to control all of your movements yourself so you don’t exceed your limits or cause yourself pain. He or she may also carry out hearing, heart, breathing or sight tests depending on your condition. You won’t be forced to do anything that causes you pain and if you do feel uncomfortable you should tell the health care professional.
5. Summing up the process
Finally, the health care professional will explain again what happens next, and that you’ll be hearing directly from a Decision Maker at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about
the outcome of your claim. You’ll then be given another opportunity to ask questions or raise any concerns – the health care professional will be keen to make sure you don’t leave the assessment with any worries or unanswered questions. Once any queries you’ve raised are answered that’ll be the end of the assessment, and the health care professional will take you back to the assessment centre reception.
After the assessment
Once you’ve left, the health care professional will fill in the rest of your report. They’ll do so straight after the assessment to make sure all the information is completely accurate, then send it, along with any other medical information you’ve provided, straight onto the DWP where a decision will be made about your claim.
We hope that this was useful. If you have any other questions, take a look at the FAQ section of our site, which has lots of useful information about all aspects of the assessment process.
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