Experiences of assessment
Experiences of assessment

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Experiences of assessment

1 Brian and Sylvia's experiences

Brian and Sylvia, a married couple in their early sixties, were both bikers until Brian was diagnosed as having Parkinson's Disease. Sylvia became his designated carer, but her own health was deteriorating. Brian had an initial assessment by the social services department, followed by annual review assessments for home care. There were also assessments related to Brian's attendance at a day centre. Sylvia had assessments as a carer, but was looking at having an assessment as a service user.

Activity 1

Listen to the audio clip below. As you are listening, make some notes about the issues mentioned by Brian and Sylvia.

You may find it helpful to list separately:

  • the conditions of the assessments (for example, what brought them about, where they were carried out and by whom, and the questions asked);

  • the experience of the assessments (for example, whether Brian and Sylvia felt at ease and as though they were being treated with respect; their reactions to the assessment process and to the assessors).

Download this audio clip.Audio player: Clip 1: Brian and Sylvia
Skip transcript: Clip 1: Brian and Sylvia

Transcript: Clip 1: Brian and Sylvia

Bikes ... motorcycles ... gorgeous ... beautiful ... freedom ... I like. We used to have a Goldwing 1100 ... classic bike. It meant freedom for us, at that time. We used to like the idea of just going where we wanted, when we wanted ... marvellous. Then my husband got ill ... lack of freedom. But we used to like to go to The Bulldog Bash, the Parade. We used to do all those things. We can't do them any more.
This Parkinson's I've had for a long time, and I didn't know nothing about it until recently, when I was diagnosed. I just kept going, and thought nothing of it. And then, when I was diagnosed I had it, then it changes your life. You've got to adapt another way of life. You can't do the things you liked to do. I couldn't ride the bike any more.
Once it was finally sunk into my head, and the specialist had confirmed the diagnosis, then the next thing to do is find out all you can about it. Because what you don't know about, you're frightened of. So I looked through Directory Enquiries, and all kinds of things, until I found out a Parkinson's Disease society. They have a welfare officer, and he advised me to get in touch with social services because, where we were living, it was a chalet. There was no handrail. It was very dangerous for Brian just to be there. Plus he needed other things, like a raised toilet seat, walking sticks, walking aids, bath hoist ... all kinds of things. So I was told to find out and get in touch with social services, which I did. I took Brian with me, and I went had a talk and they weren't terribly helpful. I do understand that, you know, they've had loads of cutbacks. If they can get away with doing the minimum for you, then that's exactly what they're going to do. So I didn't leave it there. I persisted, and I got them out to do an assessment on Brian.
When this person ... she was sitting where you are ... and she came with this assessment. But instead of talking to the person, you know, who was involved, she was talking to my wife as if I wasn't here, you know. And there was not a word spoken from her to me - mouth to mouth - at all. She just sat there and just kept on, and kept on. But she was talking Sylvia, rather than talking to me. She never asked my opinion of anything.
We had one particular social worker, who asked us about our sex life, which I found a somewhat odd question and not relevant really. And I just said I wasn't going to answer that ... didn't think it was relevant, so I didn't answer it. Another lady said, “What sort of bank account have you got?” ... asked me about my financial situation. Again, I said, “No, it's not relevant to this assessment or to what we're ... it's nothing to do with what we're talking about. We're talking about Brian and his situation, not about my bank balance, and not about my sex life”.
It's all paperwork. You know, instead of getting action done, it's filling in this, filling in that, sending it back to you. And it's like a shuttle service. There's more paperwork. If they cut half the paperwork out and got down to the proper business, it wouldn't take half so long to get these things sorted out and done.
In order for Brian to be kept at home, if you like, and doing things he normally does, they've got to help me because, with my medical condition, I need help as well. So I'm assessed as a carer, but my needs are taken into consideration as well, in order to keep Brian going and looked after. So that's how the assessment works. The thing is, what she came to tell me was that, yes I can get the help with Brian until I go for something called Disability Living Allowance, which I haven't claimed because, until now I've been able to manage. Didn't think I was entitled to it.
So I just claim a carers allowance. That's £40 a week, that's all. So, in order to get this help, I've got to claim Disability Living Allowance. I've got to go and see a lung specialist in six weeks time and attend a clinic. In order to claim that, I've got to get the specialist's assessment of me, so that I can do that and then I can tell them. Then I can get assessed as a user and a carer, and God knows what.
They can't expect my wife to do the job in her health, and still keep lifting me into bed and out of bed in the morning, you know. I ain't any lightweight, you know. I always say I'm a bantamweight, you know. I'm no lightweight. Now, my wife wants a cleaner to come on a Friday. The only trouble with that is that, if I have somebody to help me in and out of bed, shave or what, to give Sylvia a rest, they're going to drop her cleaner off. So it's sort of six of one and four the other. You take somebody on for my needs, Sylvia’s needs are dropped. They won't have the worker to come in on Friday if I have the carer for me, which is stupid I think.
There hasn't been ... up to when we got our present social worker, there's no continuity. I think, in order to be able to talk to social workers, or anyone, freely about everything that ... whatever kind of problem you've got, you need someone that you know ... and that you probably have met two or three times. The social worker that we have now ... she not only listens to Brian, she talks to Brian ... and she takes what he says into account. And they interact with each other, and she would probably get more information from Brian.
Anything you say to her, she takes it in.
End transcript: Clip 1: Brian and Sylvia
Clip 1: Brian and Sylvia
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