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Advice delivery when working from home

JoW
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Financial inclusion manager - Wythenshawe Community Housing

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Hello

I would be interested to hear from other advice services who normally deliver face to face advice, including form completion for clients, and hear how they are managing this with working from home. Are advisers completing paper forms and sending to clients to sign and send on or have you stopped form filling? Are people using the PDF PIP2 form that is around? Are you just giving telephone or email advice now?

What about really vulnerable clients and people without access to phones or computers?

Would be really useful to hear how others are managing and maybe we can swap/share good ideas?

Thanks

Helen Rogers
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Welfare rights officer - Stockport MBC

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I’m doing telephone appointments.  When clients have forms to fill in I offer them the choice of me talking them through it over the phone or them posting me the form and me filling it in by asking the questions over the phone.  Most clients choose for me to fill it in.  I only work with clients with mental health conditions.  Most of my clients aren’t digitally savvy enough for me to email them the form.  One client who I talked through a PIP 2 over the phone never posted it.  She’s now sending it to me so I can send it on with a covering letter.
It helps that PIP are extending deadlines.  This way of working will be more problematic if/when this changes.  That might mean I have go into the office more often to pick up post.  I’m currently going in once a week.

JoW
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Financial inclusion manager - Wythenshawe Community Housing

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Thanks Helen. It is really useful to hear how others are managing. We may start doing what you are doing re: getting people to send PIP2 form to us to then complete over the phone and return to them to sign and post on.

Have you ever used the Word version/document and do you know if DWP accept it? It was circulated with the latest NWMHWRs zoom meeting minutes. Nervous to use it in case DWP say they have to have the original form back and therefore claimants lose out.

What we need is an electronic version of all benefit forms that we can complete with people over the phone and then email to the claimant for them to agree to and submit to DWP.  Obviously only for those with digital access/skills but this would make claiming a lot easier.

Thanks

Helen Rogers
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Welfare rights officer - Stockport MBC

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I’ve not used the Word document myself, but I know others have.  I think it would need to be submitted as “extra pages” to the PIP 2.  The original form would still need to be sent back so that the bar code can be scanned.

Mike Hughes
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Senior welfare rights officer - Salford City Council Welfare Rights Service

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Can’t see that anything going on now is a reason to stop form completion. It requires the odd bit of lateral thinking but as an adviser that ought to be second nature to some extent.

So, telephone appointments instead of face to face and then after that it varies. Most of my small caseload is sight impaired so I would ordinarily do a long HV to gather info and then complete the form and a Word document back at the office to be added in rather than replace the form. The words “Please see the attached additional information” feature in my claim pack completion an awful lot. Sight loss is something which tends to be really obvious (cane, dog, tinted lenses) in an absolutely tiny number of cases and absolutely not obvious in the overwhelming majority of cases so the idea of completing a form in front of a claimant always struck me as fairly ludicrous given the degree of fundamental explanation and anecdotal examples required.

Lockdown means those long HVs are phone calls. Much is spoken about the contrast between such calls and face to face comms. Whilst that is undoubtedly true in some circumstances (as Helen describes) it doesn’t really apply when it comes to sight loss/impairment. I gather the info; take my notes and then carry on as normal. I either email a first draft to the claimant or an approved relative and await comments/amendments or read through a couple of long examples of what I’ve written to get approval.

I tend to get the form signed and dated before I leave the HV but commit to not sending anything until final approval on the draft has been given.

At present I am simply taking notes over the phone and (as per a call I’m about to make to someone without email/IT) post it out for them to comment or attach and post.

BC Welfare Rights
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The Brunswick Centre, Kirklees & Calderdale

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Helen Rogers - 03 June 2020 08:49 AM

I think it would need to be submitted as “extra pages” to the PIP 2.  The original form would still need to be sent back so that the bar code can be scanned.

That’s what I’ve been usually been doing for PIP. Get the cl to sign and date the original form and write “see attached document for answers to all questions” on it. Then posted them the word document for them to send off, using community response volunteers to get to the post box if necessary. It seems to be working so far. A bit tricky in terms of attaching extra evidence but I am able to get to the office ever so often for photocopying/printing etc so have had cl’s send stuff there for me to collect.

ESA/UC50s easy enough to download (took a stash of them home with me before lockdown), fill in over phone and send to cl for signature and onward posting. I haven’t come across the online PIP2 yet, don’t know how that works.

Usual hit and miss stuff with implicit consent, not just the DWP. RSL’s/other agencies, etc are a bit variable, have persuaded some to ring cl to confirm consent to talk to me, other’s insist on it in writing or are just awkward and uncooperative. E.g. one cl could only make call by Whatsapp whilst connected to wifi due to a broken phone and advice agency refused to agree to take a Whatsapp call because it wasn’t its policy to do so [insert multiple swear words], that sort of thing.

It’s all a bit more time consuming than usual but overall seems to be just about working here. So far.

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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Information and advice resources - Age UK

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Just been made aware of this from an outfit called Catalyst which has some useful information on resources to assist with remote working.

Resources /Remote Working