Social Security Experience Panels: Personal Independence Payment health assessments

Panels' views expressed in a survey on Personal Independence Payment health assessments.

This document is part of a collection

Duration of health assessments

Past research with Experience Panel members has revealed that due to certain health conditions, there are limits on how long panel members feel they can talk to staff in person[13] and on the phone[14].

To ensure that the duration of health assessments were appropriate and suitable for client's needs, respondents were asked how long a face to face health assessment should last.

Just under six in ten respondents felt said that health assessments should last 'as long as necessary' (58 per cent). Around two in ten respondents thought assessments should last around thirty minutes (17 per cent). Around one in ten thought they should last around 45 minutes (10 per cent) or an hour (13 per cent). Just one in a hundred said they should last two hours (1 per cent).

Table 15: How long should face to face health assessments last? (n=127)

Duration %
About 30 minutes 17
About 45 minutes 10
About an hour 13
About 2 hours 1
As long as necessary 58
Don't know / no opinion 1
Total 100

A chi-square test of association was carried out to identify any differences in respondent preference on length of home visit compared to length of appointment in an agency venue. No significant associations were identified[15]. Similiarly, no associations were identifed between duration of appointment and age or disability status. A significant association was identifed between duration of appointment and care status, with respondents who had caring responsibilities tending to want shorter appointments[16].

Respondents were also asked how long an assessment would be too long for them. Almost nine in ten respondents said the assessment could be over 30 minutes long (87 per cent), however less than three in ten said it could be over an hour (28 per cent). Just over one in ten said it could be over 1 hour 30 minutes (14 per cent).

Table 16: How long an assessment would be too long? (n=124)

Duration %
Over 30 minutes 14
Over 40 minutes 14
Over 50 minutes 9
Over 1 hour 35
Over 1 hour 15 minutes 7
Over 1 hour 30 minutes 8
Over 1 hour 45 minutes 3
Over 2 hours 11
Total 101

Responses were grouped into maximum acceptable assessment times for respondents:

Table 17: Acceptable assessment time for respondents

Duration %
30 minutes 100
40 minutes 86
50 minutes 72
1 hour 63
1 hour 15 minutes 28
1 hour 30 minutes 22
1 hour 45 minutes 14
2 hours 11

A number of statistically significant associations were observed for certain demographic groups. Of those respondents who were carers, over two fifths said they would need an assessment of less than an hour (82 per cent), where as just over six in ten non-carers would want this (64 per cent). A chi-square test of association revealed this to be a significant association[17].

Respondents who selected up to an hour felt that this should be 'plenty of time to gather all that is needed'. It was suggested that if both parties were adequately prepared for the meeting, then it should take no longer to cover all areas.

Respondents who preferred shorter health assessments often refered to the stressful nature of the experience. They said that they 'struggle with people' and 'feel anxious' so the 'shorter the better'. Other respondents said they were easily tired, and that sitting in a meeting for a long time could be painful.

"I get so tired easily and the pain I also feel when I have to sit up for longer than 10 minutes is excruciating even with pain killers…"

Some respondents referred to the negative environment within the test centre, saying that it limited how long they could be there.

"[The] environment, often lighting, seating, adds to anxiety and pain levels."

Respondents said that assessments lasting over an hour were 'physically and mentally exhausting'.

"My assessment lasted 1 hour and 20 minutes and when I came out I felt mentally drained and exhuasted. It felt like I had been interrogated rather than interviewed."

Many respondents suggested the health assessment should be long enough to gather the information, with a view of keeping it no longer than necessary so as not to harm the client.

What should happen if a client can no longer continue

We asked respondents what they would like to happen if they felt they could no longer continue with a health assessment. This may be a result of the client being in pain, unhappy with the assessor or simply feeling like they cannot continue at that current time.

Many respondents said they would like to be able to arrange a further health assessment at a convenient date and time, including the option to select another assessor if required. Some requested that there be a written record of what had happened up to that point, so the future assessment would be shorter.

Other respondents suggested that it was made clear to clients that they had the right to stop an appointment, to avoid them feeling stressed or worrying about consequences if they did so.

It was suggested that by incorporating breaks into the process, it would reduce the need for clients to cut an assessment short.



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