Well, finally the assessment took place today. Wasn't too bad so will fill you in from application to home visit.
Firstly, after phoning up on 27th June to apply for PIP (the day DLA changed to PIP), it took roughly 3 weeks from that first part of the application over the phone (similar to the previous DLA paper questionnaire) before the paper forms came through to fill in. Again, the questionnaire was similar to the old DLA one, but with LESS detail asked on the Mobility section - so fill in as much 'additional information' if like me, your main issue with your health is mobility. From there it took 2 weeks before the information pack came with instructions to book the home visit - If you are online, it's easy, otherwise there is a phone number to call and book. You are given a bracket of time (a week) to choose when you are available, they will then confirm by letter which of those dates (am or pm) they will visit you. Hope that helps as a guide.
Note: You may be asked to attend a clinic appointment which will be within 90 minutes of your home address and they will reimburse you the travel cost. It also states in the information pack, that most cases will be home visits. I suppose it depends where you live.
So - to the home visit.
As I live alone, I keep a tidy house - I was a bit anxious that this could be seen as me being able to vacuum every day, clean the bath, etc. But thought no, it is how it is and there's only me here and well, it just doesn't get untidy, so they will see it as it is. Because I'm so darned fussy, there's never any mess anyway and plus, my daughter does the bath and vacuuming and the son-in-law does the gardening. I was able to explain this later.
It was a female assessor from Capita. Very friendly and nice and felt at ease and not intimidated at all. (I'm sure some of them can be!) She had a laptop with her and basically - if you've had an assessment done before elsewhere (I had one with ATOS) - it was just a 'living room' version of the same.
She started with needing proof of ID, so a Passport, Drivers License, etc are essential at the beginning. Then she went through the medications. I didn't have a Prescription List, so she asked to see all medications which was fine. I was asked how often I took some of the medications (i.e. anxiety pills which I take when needed). I was conscious that by having to go to the bathroom to collect the medication, that she may be observing my every move (I'm sure she was) and how I was coping with the breathing problem whilst moving around (I wasn't!)
Then as she typed into her laptop, it was on to the same questions you get in the form that you will/have received prior to the visit as part of the PIP Application. So basically, I was repeating everything I had already written down in detail to them on the form that they had already received. I answered the questions in detail and didn't blabber on too much. I was conscious that I was basing my answers (as I had in paper form) on my worst day experiences. I was also aware that I was breathless, anxious and puffing throughout - so that she would have observed that fact - whether it goes in to her final report is another thing!
On the Mobility side, I was asked (as the paper form) how far I could walk before getting breathless etc. I had a photocopy of the form next to me so that I could openly refer to some of the answers, but mainly this one regarding the distance I could walk before having to stop. On the form, they tend to use Buses as a guide (10 metres being the length of a bus) so be very careful with your answers here as apparently if you can walk at least 40 metres without having to stop then there's nowt much wrong with you!!
As I said, the questions are identical to the ones in the form, and once she had finished the questions, she then read out what she had put as my responses - and read out as a statement. She asked if I was happy with it or if there was anything I wanted changed. I did say that where I mentioned after a very slow and uncomfortable start to the day, having to keep stopping to rest when I get myself dressed, that where I then said my energy levels increased - that it sounded like I was fine, but in which case I wasn't and struggled through the day. So she altered her wording. Make sure you speak up especially with the answers they put when they read them back to you, and that you're happy with how it all sounds. She did say that they take all 'variables' into account, in my case for example that I have 5 bad days out of 7 which reflects how bad I am, but again, that changes.
I was given the opportunity to ask any questions and to clarify anything, which I did, and I then had my blood pressure taken and the usual Peak Flow Test. I offered a copy of reports/letters (which I had already sent with the application form) but she just read them to clarify that they were the same as they had on the system anyway.
One thing I did ask was her medical qualification. She has a background as a mental health nurse in previous employment. I asked this question as my ATOS assessment was done by a Registered Nurse and was turned down, although given on appeal. So I have an issue with these people and how their reports and observations are written and how it influences the 'Decision Maker' at DWP. I would much prefer a GP or someone with better understanding and more knowledge about respiratory problems coming to assess me than this!
After precisely an hour, her phone beeped. This was a security message which they have to respond to so that 'head office' know that they are safe and well. The assessment was then wrapped up in the 'allotted' time!
... and well, that was it. The assessor then goes away and finalises the report - no doubt (and hopefully) adding their observations to the report. This will then be sent to DWP where someone there will make a decision as to whether I get PIP or not. I will be notified within 30 days. Same process as ESA applications.
So there you have it. To be honest, I personally really don't see why a visit is needed other than to prove who you are and to make some physical observations, because the questions - and my answers - were identical to the form I had filled in.
I will now wait and see what the outcome is - but I don't hold out much hope - you just seem to have to fight your way to get anything when you are genuinely ill these days - but you never know.
I'm around and will answer any questions (not too many pleeeeeeease!) and will let you know once I hear a decision from them.
PS - download the PIP Guide to Claiming on the link below - this will give you all the information you need regarding your claim.