Around three quarters of respondents (73 per cent) were currently in receipt of PIP and nearly one quarter (23 per cent) had helped someone else to apply. 2 per cent had received PIP in the past and 2 per cent were applying for PIP for the first time.
Nine in ten respondents (90 per cent) had attended a PIP assessment before. Over half of respondents (57 per cent) had attended their own assessment, while just under two in ten (19 per cent) had attended an assessment to support someone else. 14 per cent had attended both their own assessment and to support someone else.
Just under seven in ten respondents (68 per cent) had their most recent assessment at an assessment centre. Three in ten (31 per cent) had their most recent assessment at home.
Around four in ten respondents (46 per cent) felt there were positive and negative aspects to their assessment experience. Around four in ten respondents (44 per cent) felt their assessment experience was negative overall, whilst around one in ten respondents (11 per cent) felt their assessment experience was positive overall.
Respondents were split on whether they would feel comfortable having an assessment over the phone. Around four in ten respondents (41 per cent) said they would feel comfortable and around four in ten (43 per cent) said they would not. 16 per cent said they did not know.
Of those respondents who said would feel comfortable having an assessment over the phone or that they did not know, the majority (89 per cent) said that between 9 am and 5 pm would be the best time for them to have an assessment.
Of those same respondents, almost all (96 per cent) said they would be comfortable having an assessment over the phone in their own home. Around two in ten respondents said they would be comfortable at a building or office run by a charity (21 per cent) or at the GP office (18 per cent). 14 per cent said they would feel comfortable having an assessment over the phone at a Social Security Scotland venue. The least popular options were at a local authority office and a local library.
We asked those same respondents what devices they would use for the assessment. The most popular options were personal mobile phone (69 per cent) or landline (70 per cent). This was followed by personal PC or laptop (19 per cent) or tablet (22 per cent). Under one in ten respondents said they would use someone else's phone, tablet or laptop (7 per cent) or a phone that is available in a public area (8 per cent).*
Seven in ten of all respondents (72 per cent) thought there would be difficulties with having an assessment on the phone.
Of those respondents who said there would be difficulties with having an assessment over the phone, nearly four in ten (39 per cent) said the main difficulty would be expressing themselves properly. Over one in ten (14 per cent) thought the main difficulty would be not being able to see the assessor. Collectively, problems with call quality, signal issues, not being able to hear the assessor and finding it hard to speak loudly accounted for around two in ten responses (19 per cent).
Of the 27 per cent of respondents who selected 'other' to indicate that they thought another issue would be the main difficulty in having an assessment over the phone, most referred to a combination of the responses already listed. Other respondents said their health condition would be the main difficulty or that there would not be enough time to think over the phone, that they may struggle to understand the assessor or respond in the way they wish to. Many said the main difficulty would be the assessor not being able to see them in order to get a full and accurate understanding of their health condition or disability.
Over half (54 per cent) of respondents said if they were applying for the first time, they would want to find out what happens in an assessment when they are told they need one. Just under half (47 per cent) said they would like this information before they apply for PIP. Just under three in ten respondents (28 per cent) said they would want to find out what happens in an assessment immediately after submitting their application. Around one in ten respondents said they would want to find out what happens in an assessment the week (10 per cent) or day (8 per cent) before the assessment itself.*
Nearly half of respondents (47 per cent) said that a face to face assessment in their home would suit them best. This was followed by one quarter of respondents (24 per cent) who said a face to face assessment at a location near them (e.g. GP, Third Sector venue) and nearly two in ten respondents (18 per cent) who said an assessment over the phone would suit them best. Face to face assessment at a Social Security Scotland venue was the least popular option, with just over one in ten respondents (12 per cent).
Of those respondents who said an assessment in their home would suit them best, seven in ten (70 per cent) said this was because their disability, mental health or long term health condition makes it difficult for them to leave home. Just under seven in ten respondents (69 per cent) said they would feel more comfortable in their own home. One quarter (26 per cent) said an assessment in their home would suit them best because they would not need to spend time travelling.
Three quarters of respondents (76 per cent) said they would like to state their preferences for an assessment on the initial application form. Only two in respondents overall (24 per cent) said they would like to tell Social Security Scotland their preferences after being invited to an assessment either online, over the phone or by post.
Nearly half of respondents (47 per cent) said Social Security Scotland's website is the first place they would look for guidance about assessments with Social Security Scotland. The second most popular place to look for guidance would be at a support organisation e.g. Citizens Advice Bureau or Welfare Rights, with over one third of respondents (35 per cent) stating this. Combined, all other potential places to look for guidance about assessments such as GP office, online forums, family and friends and on the phone to Social Security Scotland were chosen by just under two in ten respondents (19 per cent).
Nine in ten respondents (89 per cent) said they would want to involve someone such as a family member, carer or advocate to support them during the assessment.
Of those who said they would want to involve someone to support them in the assessment, seven in ten (70 per cent) said they would like to involve a family member. Half of respondents (51 per cent) said an advocate and over one third (35 per cent) said a carer. Of respondents who said they would involve 'another person' to support them at their assessment, most said they would involve a friend.*
Almost all respondents (94 per cent) said they would said they would like the person to support them by being in the room or on the phone with them. Over one third (36 per cent) would ask their supporter to provide a written statement of support.*
Of respondents who indicated they would like the person to support them in another way, most said they would want the person to help them communicate or speak on their behalf. This including clarifying questions and helping them to remember to convey important information to the assessor.
Respondents were asked if there is anything else Social Security could do differently when it takes over responsibility for PIP assessments. The most common response was that Social Security Scotland should use medically trained health and social care professionals to conduct assessments. Many respondents said the assessor should have in-depth knowledge of the particular clients' health conditions to tailor the assessment. Others said that assessors should also be qualified in mental health conditions. Many of these respondents said that assessments should not be carried out by an external, third party organisation.
The second most common response was that assessments should be conducted in a way which treats people fairly and respectfully. Related to this theme, some respondents noted it was important for people to be effectively listened to by empathetic assessors during the assessment, and that assessments should be reported truthfully and accurately. Others said that assessments should be recorded or that clients should be provided with a copy of the assessment report.
Another common response to what Social Security Scotland can do differently in relation to assessments was to reduce the need for them. Other themes included ensuring assessment spaces are accessible, close to home and friendly, as well as offering flexibility in terms of home assessments and changes to appointments depending on the needs of the client on the day of assessment.