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cooking at or above waist height

BC Welfare Rights
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Where does this concept come from and why waist height? Most people’s waists are quite a bit higher than a kitchen surface/hob (men at least). Does anyone have any experience/thoughts about cooking at or above waist height in a wheelchair?

tbidmead
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This is from The Government’s response to the consultation on the Personal Independence Payment assessment criteria and regulations:

“5.7 Several respondents noted that it was unclear why cooking food was restricted to ‘heating food at or above waist height’ and asked whether this was fair. While we accept that many ovens are at ground level, this activity is designed to focus solely on an individual’s ability to prepare and cook food, not to assess their ability to bend – this is taken into account elsewhere in the assessment in the Washing and bathing and Dressing and undressing. We specify that food should be prepared at
waist height and cooked on a conventional cooker or in a microwave because this ensures that individuals do not receive points twice for the same barrier. “

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Thanks, sorry if I did not make this completely clear. If I was to cook at waist height I would have to raise my hob about 6 inches or so above the height of the work surface (or get my pans to levitate). I think that I could just about manage to cook whilst sat in a wheelchair with the cooker at its current height without risking a face full of spitting fat or water. But if I had to cook at 6 inches above my current cooker height I would not be confident of doing this safely let alone be able to look into the pan to see what I was cooking.

Wheelchair users will of course try to get lowered kitchen surfaces to make life easier/safer. So does this mean that PIP is basically saying that if you are in a wheelchair, it’s a microwave for you?

Elliot Kent
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Isn’t the idea that the notional kitchen equipment is always waist height relative to you - so if you are standing it is at waist height and if you sit in a wheelchair, it notionally ‘lowers’ so that it is at your new waist height? The goal of the exercise being to look at the specific tasks being performed when cooking rather than the physical accessibility of the equipment.

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Thanks Elliot. OK, so by that logic a wheelchair user’s ability to cook is being tested as if their kitchen has been adapted even if in fact it has not been?

Surely this cannot be right, can it? A couple of scenarios: one member of a couple is in a wheelchair and the other is not. Or someone is only expected to be in a wheelchair for a year or two, so the kitchen is not adapted.

I understand that cooking is supposed to be a theoretical test but does it not have to have some grounding in the situation that people find themselves in? Rather like if you have a shower over a bath you are tested on your ability to get in and out of that, rather than in and out of an imaginary shower cubicle.

Va1der
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BC Welfare Rights - 20 January 2020 09:43 AM

I understand that cooking is supposed to be a theoretical test but does it not have to have some grounding in the situation that people find themselves in? Rather like if you have a shower over a bath you are tested on your ability to get in and out of that, rather than in and out of an imaginary shower cubicle.

Incidentally, the reason why bending to use an oven is not included in activity 1 is because that would cause an overlap with activity 4(d).
Part of the consultations was specifically around avoiding overlap, which has caused some of the odd wordings/conditions.

Ironically, I’ve had clients awarded 4 points because they can’t stand for prolonged periods, while a wheelchair user is expected to cut veg at a low table, and then microwave them.

Elliot Kent
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BC Welfare Rights - 20 January 2020 09:43 AM

Thanks Elliot. OK, so by that logic a wheelchair user’s ability to cook is being tested as if their kitchen has been adapted even if in fact it has not been?

Surely this cannot be right, can it? A couple of scenarios: one member of a couple is in a wheelchair and the other is not. Or someone is only expected to be in a wheelchair for a year or two, so the kitchen is not adapted.

I understand that cooking is supposed to be a theoretical test but does it not have to have some grounding in the situation that people find themselves in? Rather like if you have a shower over a bath you are tested on your ability to get in and out of that, rather than in and out of an imaginary shower cubicle.

I don’t think it is helpful to think of it in terms of a real kitchen - adapted or otherwise - its a discrete and hypothetical functional test. (Someone in a wheelchair is probably not going to be disadvantaged by it because they will still need aids or more in terms of “preparing” food).

And I’m not sure that its correct to say that someone is assessed with reference to the sort of shower which they actually have - the test is the same for everyone - see para 25 of SP v SSWP (PIP) [2016] AACR 43- “It was, surely, Parliament’s intention that the nature of the assessment for PIP must be the same for all claimants.”

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Elliot Kent - 21 January 2020 08:51 AM

I don’t think it is helpful to think of it in terms of a real kitchen - adapted or otherwise - its a discrete and hypothetical functional test. (Someone in a wheelchair is probably not going to be disadvantaged by it because they will still need aids or more in terms of “preparing” food).

I think that the wheelchair itself would be an aid but I am thinking of Reg 4 and whether an argument exists for 1E on the basis of a wheelchair alone (leaving aside the microwave for a moment as I think that a separate argument could be constructed against that). Moyna says “It is a notional test, a thought-experiment, to calibrate the severity of the disability. It does not matter whether the applicant actually needs to cook. As the form DLA 1 said, “try to imagine how much help you would need if you tried to do this.” This seems to support this view to me.

Elliot Kent - 21 January 2020 08:51 AM

And I’m not sure that its correct to say that someone is assessed with reference to the sort of shower which they actually have - the test is the same for everyone - see para 25 of SP v SSWP (PIP) [2016] AACR 43- “It was, surely, Parliament’s intention that the nature of the assessment for PIP must be the same for all claimants.”

Agreed, I have probably overstated this. But SP v SSWP concerns a claimant who moved into a house that already had an adapted bathroom. Whilst it says that Parliamentary intention was surely that the assessment was the same for everyone, it leaves open the question of what the test actually is beyond that it is an unadapted bathroom. My experience is that tribunals generally seem to resolve this by looking at the actual situation of the client (i.e. they ask what kind of shower the claimant actually has). I appreciate that this is limited to my own experience and interpretation.

Thanks for the input, it is very helpful to discuss it..

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Va1der - 20 January 2020 12:26 PM

Ironically, I’ve had clients awarded 4 points because they can’t stand for prolonged periods, while a wheelchair user is expected to cut veg at a low table, and then microwave them.

The only reason I can think of why not being able to stand for long periods would result in 1E would be if there was a risk of fits or blackouts or similar, or something else other than standing was at play. Otherwise 1B for a perching stool would seem more likely?