Dealing with an ATOS Home visit.
Many of our readers have asked what to do in the event they are granted a home visit, here is some information on what you can do.
Do not expect the HCP to behave in their usual manner, they dislike carrying out home visits as they have to enter your territory and therefore feel vulnerable.
They do not like to be in a situation where they have no power over you, can not control the situation, can be exposed as the charlatans they are and will want to get the “examination” over as quickly as possible.
Even in this “exposed” situation the HCP is likely to appear friendly and helpful, even sympathising with your health problems, (Oh it’s terrible isn’t it, my Daughter has that too) sometimes even suggesting answers to questions if you are “stuck”.
Lets look at it in sections:
Pre visit information
If you have any pets see if you can get a family member to look after them for the duration of the visit, ATOS HCP’s are known to make the assumption you can walk your pet dog, stand up long enough to clean out a bird cage, open cans of food for your dog, cat etc, etc.
If you intend to covertly record the visit secure your tape recorder where it can not be seen but can pick up all sound in the room, the same applies to video taping. There are several every day objects which will accommodate a small video recorder.
If you intend to tell the HCP you are recording the likelihood is they will terminate the “examination” immediately and leave. They can not stop you recording the visit, they just don’t like it.
Ask a friend (preferably someone of the same sex in case you have to remove some clothing and if possible someone who is not a relative) or family member you can trust to attend the “examination” with you, introduce them to the HCP by name, they can take notes though the HCP will attempt to prevent you from doing so, by telling you your notes will not be accepted by any tribunal or court as an accurate account of the event. Let me tell you this, it is the Judge or Magistrate who decides what is admissible and inadmissible in their court, not ATOS. Taking notes and or recording helps you to remember vital points or information should you find you have to appeal.
Have all of the supporting medical evidence you can available for the visit, this should include all medication, letters from your G.P., Specialist, Psychiatrist, Physiotherapist or any other medical professional delivering you any form of treatment or care. Have all dates of hospitalisation, visits to hospital (emergency or otherwise), Physio or other treatment or care.
Have all of your medication available, it is best if you have the medication in the box bearing your name and the prescribed dose.
Read through all of the leaflets relating to your medication and list all of the side effects you suffer from. There is no need to be specific as many medications have similar side effects. At the head of your list write something like. “As I am not medically qualified, I can not say specifically which of my medications cause which side effect. I can confirm I do suffer these side effects, which are only present and which are listed in the leaflets accompanying the medication I am taking”.
Before you let them into your home.
Keep your front door on the chain when you open it.
Check they are who they say they are, ask for identification and do not let them into your home until you are absolutely sure they are an ATOS HCP.
If you are suspicious you may want to call ATOS to ensure the person you have on your door step is indeed their visiting HCP. Ask them politely to wait until you have verified their identity
Within your home
Try to be in the room which best meets your needs.
Try to remain polite and courteous throughout the “examination”.
If the HCP asks to wash their hands have your companion accompany them into the kitchen/bathroom etc and ensure they know they are being observed. Same applies if they ask to use the toilet ask you companion to accompany them to the bathroom and wait at a discreet distance until they are finished. ATOS HCPs have been known to rummage through the pills cabinet.
Remember, this is a functional ability test and not a medical. There is a difference and it is essential you remember this during the “examination”. A functional ability test does exactly what it says, it tests your ability to function in a work situation. ATOS and the DWP have not described the “work” situation they use as their base line.
If you say you can not mobilise 50m or more without severe pain and discomfort, this must be made obvious to the HCP.
Time the visit, you can use our assessing ATOS sheet which you can print off from the blog (under assessing ATOS) or on the forum under useful templates.
You must remember.
The HCP may ask you to carry out basic movements which may cause you pain either at the time or later on, you have the right to decline any task you are asked to perform. It is wise to tell the HCP why you are declining and to ask him to make a record of your reason in his report rather than simply writing client declined, which may mislead the Decision Maker.
Ask the HCP if you can go through his report with him to ensure there are no inconsistencies ? Even though you know they will refuse and advise you can get a copy from your local Jobcentreplus. Still it will alert the HCP to the fact that you are onto them.
Do not sign any documents without reading them first and never sign a HCP report.