Experiences of assessment
Experiences of assessment

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Experiences of assessment

3 Anne's experiences

Figure 1

Anne has arthritis and depression. She is a retired social worker who retired early on health grounds. Her assessment was carried out by an occupational therapist. As her arthritis is likely to get worse, she may require more support in the future. She expresses anxiety about whether sensitive account will then be taken of the fact that she is a lesbian.

Activity 3

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

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 Anne felt at ease and as though she was being treated with respect; her reactions to the assessment process and to the assessors).

Download this audio clip.Audio player: Clip 3: Anne
Skip transcript: Clip 3: Anne

Transcript: Clip 3: Anne

I have arthritis in various points of my body, and I also suffer from depression. One of the central parts of my life is the fact that I'm a lesbian. But I have been married, and I have five children and grandchildren, and for a lot of people that doesn't equate. The other central fact of my life is that I'm a Christian, and I attend church reasonably regularly. And those two facts - being a lesbian and a Christian - a lot of people find very difficult to reconcile.
I retired from work on the grounds of ill health about three years ago now, and I had to be assessed at that point as to my ability to work or not. That was carried out by the local authority doctor, and it was not the best assessment in the world, and was very directed by the welfare people. Within that short assessment there was no, “How are you going to manage?” ... and all the rest of it. He was just doing a simple job. Was I fit to do the job that I was supposed to be doing? And, if not, well, that was it.
Since then, I've changed my own GP, who went into my history quite well ... changed my medication, but did not ask me if I was managing any other way. So it's actually been up to me to look for the services and go and find them. I decided that I needed some help in actually managing cooking facilities especially, and so I wanted to go to the occupational therapist. And I knew that I could refer myself directly, but I also went to my GP and said this was what I was going to do. So I did refer myself.
The first question was, “What benefits was I getting?” And I said I was at that point getting incapacity benefit on top of widow's pension, and I had applied for disabled living allowance. So that was that. Then I was asked what help I wanted. And we went through a checklist of things that I could do, and various things were given to me, and some advice was given to me. I've got a stair rail ... that was fitted, because they were horrified to find that I hadn't got a banister at all to hold on to. And I said particularly that I was doing this university course, where I had to do quite a lot of drawing, and I needed something to help me with ... to hold pens and pencils. So I was given a length of foam rubber and told to chop it up and put it round my pencil, which was absolutely hopeless. So there was an assessment that took place sitting in a hallway, with other people passing by, with an occupational therapist, that lasted for a maximum of about an hour and a half. And that's been it.
I think one of the disappointments for me has been the fact that I did expect to have some form of assessment in my own home, when I went to the occupational therapist. I know they're very busy and lots of work but, nevertheless, I felt that it was wrong that nobody had seen me actually living, working in my own area. They don't know what my kitchen looks like, for a start. There might have been things that they could have helped me with on that. I didn't do anything physical at this other assessment. It was just a matter of answering questions. So that I feel that they got an incomplete picture perhaps.
Life will get more difficult for me, and there will come a time when I need a lot more help and care. There will be an interim period when I will need more help within the home, and a home assessment will hopefully take place at that point.
Now I live on my own, and I don't have a partner. But that's not say that in the future I won't. And the fact that I'm a lesbian actually has a bearing on that, and if we have a home assessment, and I do have somebody living with me, then there needs to be quite a deal of sensitivity about that.
One of the real difficulties for me, I think is, when I'm assessed as needing to live somewhere else. I've always told my children that I didn't want to live with them. I can begin to see that I might have to, but I would ideally like to live in a residential setting or sheltered housing, so that I could have privacy. For me, personally, I've realised that what I'd really like to do, if I had to live in a residential setting, is live with just women. It's very difficult and very threatening for a client to raise issues that might rock the boat a bit. I can think of instances where I just keep quiet, because I don't want to rock the boat. So I do feel that social workers should address it, and should find some sensitive way, some tactful way, of saying, “Well, just what is your living position, and what would be your preferred relationships?”
End transcript: Clip 3: Anne
Clip 3: Anne
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