ESA (wrag) advice needed what should i do??

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stuart36

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Hi..
 im stuart im looking for advice/guidance on what to do after being put in esa wrag. the whole process has been some what stressing..

a bit about me. i had a stroke when i was 14 paralyzed left arm and hand, leg works at 30% limited movement but can walk. i lean to the side because of paralyzed side which has caused spinal damage after 22 years, but physio is has helped alot. so its semi controlled.i also have epilepsy from the stroke, i dont pass out and im aware of surroundings, left leg is nearly useless and speech isnt understandable for around an hour my medication stops my fits alot but can have 3 attacks in an hour or 1 in a month..

went to my esa examination. and the man i saw was very nice and said you qualify, he even read from a book to put me at some ease (which he looked happy at doing) i did record it all on my phone, but there was no mention about support group or wrag.

so now should i appeal?  am i lucky to be on wrag?  ive always been told im unemployable due to epilepsy. have asked in past for training, work, anything and always told NO so how can wrag help me?  Many Thanks for any help and advice you can give me

devine63

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Hi Stuart

Being placed in the WRAG means that the DWP's decision maker believes that you are not currently able to work (so you get benefit to support you) but that you should become able to work in the fairly near future - with support from the Job Centre.   You should be called in for an interview at which they will discuss with you what support you need to get you ready for work. 

Others will advise on whether you should appeal.   As you are interested in working, and there are at least some people with epilepsy who do work, I will make a few suggestions in that direction.

Think about how you usually spend your time: what kinds of things are you able to do?   What support (e.g. ergonomic equipment or computer hardware / software) is helpful to you in doing those things?   If you had that support, could those skills be used to allow you to do some kind of work?   e.g. the "standard" job is in a call centre: are you able to answer the phone?     Other things might include desk work - can you operate a computer?  Can you use a word processor and a spreadsheet?  If you had proper breaks at regular intervals, might you be able to do computer based office work?   

If you are able to approach the interview with some ideas about what kinds of work you might be able to do, given the right circumstances, and if you can think about what training / other things you might need to prepare you for that kind of work.... then you will be going to your interview with a very positive approach.
regards, Deb


Monic1511

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Hi Stuart

If you want to appeal have a read of this post as it give the critieria you need to meet
http://ouchtoo.org/index.php?topic=2155.0

I'll be back later & may add more info but just a flying visit just now
Monic

stuart36

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thank you very much for the replys. think i wont appeal, thanks for the info deb, ive begged for something, but insurance if anything seems to be the problem(if there was a fire and i had just had an attack, im in trouble unless theres help to walk me out, ive thought about home work helping on customer services or help with problems. i dont think office work is for me my arm hangs and causes pain after sitting for more than a few hours. if i am positive in an interview will this all be taken into account or not. im more scared about being lumbered in some horrible job i just cannot do properly.

Monic1511

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Stuart
being in the wrag doesn't mean that you need to take a job,  it means the JC+ consider you a person who with some aids and adaptations should be able to do some work and as a result you should attend training classes.
Most people I have spoken to have been called to a class type interview where they are asked to write a CV.
Other ouchers may know more.

Good luck
Monic

devine63

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Hi Stuart

I don't see why insurance should be a problem (and I have 10+ years experience with disabled students and staff). 

The solution to the issue of "if you had just had a seizure and then the building had to be evacuated" is fairly straightforward: if the employer purchases an evac chair it can be used to get anyone who needs it (including you) out of the building in an emergency.  So you would need three things:

1.  an agreed procedure for what needs to happen if you have a seizure at work [essentially it would probably say when a seizure starts colleagues should (a) note the time and (b) remove anything on which you might hurt yourself and (c) call a first aider if you need one]

2.  employer to purchase an evac chair and store it fairly near where you will be working (usually in a stairwell is a good place)

3.  agree a Personal Emergency Evac Plan [PEEP] for times when  you have just had a seizure so everyone knows whose job it is to fetch the evac chair and help you into it and assist you out of the building.

With that in place, insurance should not be an issue.   If it's a large employer they will have a Health & Safety Advisor who helps with this kind of thing.

For office work: if your arm hangs then you need a workstation where you can rest your arm (e.g. on the desk or a chair arm) just like you would at home.  There are one handed keyboards if you want to try one; or you could use a standard keyboard one handed; or use voice activated software (it types when you talk).  You are entitled to take a break from your desk ten minutes per hour, so the pain should not become an issue.   You can have an ergonomically designed office chair to help you to sit was well as possible.

In an interview (and when applying) you need to be clear that you know what support you would need, and that it can usually be provided through the govt's Access to Work funding.   Most employers are OK if you are confident about these things.

If you don't want to get stuck with the sort of job you don't like, then start applying for jobs that do interest you, straight away!
Get the Job Advisor to help you with anything they offer: especially help with CV writing and interview practice.
regards, Deb

Sunshine Meadows

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Stuart,

I agree with Monic,

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being in the wrag doesn't mean that you need to take a job
.

Everyone who ends up in WRAG could potentially be asked to do things that help them move towards word eg writing a CV or even doing some voluntary work, however in the personal experience of  a number of people here on Ouch including me, people who are not in a position to become work ready are not generally being pushed to go on 'schemes'. It does seem that part of this is that the people running 'schemes' for things like writing CV prefer to have candidates who will be able to achieve work goals because this gives the trainers /managers of the scheme bonuses when and if the disabled person moves into work.

More recently there has been a articles on the news about 'work fare' and people who are disabled and who refuse to do what a Jobcentre advisor suggests being given sanctions and losing money. At the moment we do not have enough information about what is actually happening as opposed to what can potentially happen.

In terms of your personal situation Deb is right about the way the modern work place has to make adjustments for disabled staff and this does mean more disabled people are expected to work or try to move towards work.

When it comes to your WRAG interviews my suggestion is you ask questions about how disabled people are helped into work 'these days' eg some people get funding from Access to Work. If once you know more there were to be something you think you could be successful in then ask for help with that.

I dont have an actually document to refer to but I do remember reading somewhere that disabled people who 'fail' the ESA assessment (you passed it) and get put onto Jobseekers Allowance are not expected to work full time but instead reduce hours are suggested such as 16 hours a week.

There is a lot of commentary about whether or not the government should be saying 'work is good for you', in my opinion work is good for people but taking away benefits the way the government has done using the ESA criteria as a tool is not good for anyone.

Between 2004 and 2009 I worked in a call centre for 20 then 16 hours a week. I had help from Access to Work and also got Tax Credits which meant I was able to afford things like a better car and a shared mortgage, I did not have to count the pennies when it came to household bills and I was around people a lot more. In the end I did have to leave because of a combination of bad managers and increased disability. Now three years later I do find it harder to be around people and my confidence is much reduced, in part due to illness and disability but I think also because I cant dont work anymore.

Oh and welcome to Ouch Too.


devine63

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Hi

this is not a criticism of SUnshine Meadows - I'm just using her comment (which is similar to several others I have read) to illustrate a point:

I think we need to be very careful about language, for example:

"I dont have an actually document to refer to but I do remember reading somewhere that disabled people who 'fail' the ESA assessment (you passed it) and get put onto Jobseekers Allowance are not expected to work full time but instead reduce hours are suggested such as 16 hours a week."
[my bold & italics added]

It think it is problematic to refer to someone passing or failing a Work Capacity Assessment [WCA (which is the other name for the ESA assessment)].     Whether a particular outcome is a pass or a fail depends on the individual and the outcome they were hoping for anyway, but also such comments can be misinterpreted by those who want to see us disabled people as trying to avoid work and wanting to be unable to work.

The three possible outcomes of the WCA are:  1. fit to work    2.   placed in the WRAG (so not currently able to work, but should be fairly soon, with right support)      3.  placed in the support group (so not expected to work for the foreseeable future)

I would suggest that none of these outcomes are bad, none are good, they are just different from one another - so no one should be pitied, or criticised or praised for any of those outcomes  and the only issue about whether they are "right" is whether the appropriate decision has been made for that individual - and if it has not, there will probably need to be an appeal to the appropriate authorities.

So please can we avoid talk of passing or failing the WCA?
regards, Deb



stuart36

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Thanks everyone.. im feeling better, have been rather stressed over the last few months. with my cv i spent a year recovering from being paralyzed from the neck down at 14 missed everything and got no GCSEs ive never worked, theres nothing. but im willing, i still think im young enough to do something with my self as im slowly rotting away here i personally feel its a waste of my talents mainly computers, i can learn, and at worst i can Google it.

most of all i would want to be appreciated not looked over for promotion because im disabled by an employer, then i would give my all. i know i cant be forced to work, but would i have access to better than average jobs from wrag and from being disabled?  with my fits, there would be a detailed plan for what to do i normally go to sleep for 4-5 hours then im sort of reset. if they happen when im out my left side is useless with intense shaking and i create alot of saliva out of left side of mouth and it will always draw crowds like someones been shot i cant talk last time i had teenagers taking pictures on phones. i like to be left alone, i Hate people feeling sorry for me, ive been a bit of a hermit because of it. (main reason i would want home work). i also have attacks now which happen when i sleep i wake to being part drowned on my own saliva + the fit. i lean heavy to the left, which after 22 years has left me with spinal damage. when it plays up im basically crippled, are each of my problems taken into account if i worked? and would i have to get doctors notes? sorry im blurting lots of stuff out theres lots of things i just dont know, are there any links/ guides for disabled people and work worth reading?

i like the idea of working 16 hours a week i feel thats very capable to start with (dont want to jump into the deep end straight away).  so i should not open up and ask all the ways they can help me first?  and lastly once you have work are you just forgot about? or is the help time limited? or always there?
thanks for all of the replys and advice so far, and hope everyone here has the most amazing christmas!!

devine63

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Hi Stuart

there is no need to apologise, it is absolutely fine for you to ask questions.  An employer should (at least in theory, and the good ones do in practice) take all of the impairments you declare to them into account, hence the need for them to consult you about what reasonable adjustments you need, from the interview stage onwards.    Good employers also have procedures which don't discriminate in promotions and all other areas.

Just so you know why I am being so positive: I have supported loads of disabled students at University.   For example: One of my disabled students was a young woman who developed epilepsy during her first year exams at University (her first seizure was actually during an exam].   Despite developing very severe epilepsy with  lots of memory loss and other issues, she eventually completed a degree in law, then her PhD - her doctorate was on the disability discrimination which occurs in certain medical procedures.   She also gave a speech to both houses of parliament about her experiences.

Back to you:

It would be up to you to discuss with the employer what you need when a seizure occurs, and if that is "I need a taxi to take me home so I can sleep for several hours and return to work the next day" that would be a reasonable adjustment.  The agreed procedure should also include chasing other people away, putting some mobile screens around you so you have privacy until the taxi comes.   Access to work funding can help with the taxis and screens and whatever else is needed - and the funding lasts for as long as you need it.   See https://www.gov.uk/access-to-work/overview    You might need a summary letter from your doctor as evidence of your impairments, but the people who need it will tell you if / when they need it.

No one can guarantee you access to better jobs, it's a matter of you applying for jobs and (if you have suitable qualifications etc) getting an interview.  No one can short cut that process for you.

However I do have a suggestion:  before you rush into trying to find a job, take advantage of the being in the WRAG: phone or visit your local Further Education college - ask for the prospectus / and / or any leaflets on part time courses starting in January & February. 

There should be a range of part time IT courses happening (at least, usually there is!) I suggest you sign up for at least one of them - I think the Job Centre should help with any costs  as you are in the WRAG.   If you can find it, (my knowledge may be out of date) the European Computer Driving Licence [ECDL] course is quite a good one to try - it allows you to learn / demonstrate your skills on a range of basic software like word processor and spreadsheets.  I haven't looked at it recently, but from memory I think you can work at your own pace - and that would be a qualification which would start to show an employer what you can do.  e.g. it would qualify you to do some basic office and admin tasks which could be useful to an employer.  Also the college should have support staff whose job it is to check out what disability support you need and what the college can provide for you (I know cos that used to be my job!)

From there you could talk to the teacher or careers advisor about what other courses might be useful to you in moving towards the kind of work you want....
regards, Deb





gemini20

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Hi,My daughter was put in wrag and was really dreading the job center interviews as the last time she attended it wasnt a brilliant experience.But the people she sees now are really good,very helpful and have all the info they really have been trained to help people in wrag and she actually enjoys going as they are so positive.Hope you have a good Christmas. >cracker<

Sunshine Meadows

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Deb,
I can see where you are coming from.
I was struggling to think of the right words yesterday because my thinking was foggy but I wanted to get my thoughts down albeit I knew my vocabulary was clumsy hence the ' ' marks.

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So please can we avoid talk of passing or failing the WCA?

I will try to avoid using passing and failing in regard to the WCA because of my position here, but I think it is important that members in general use the words they are comfortable with. We can encourage the use of more positive words and phrases though.

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the only issue about whether they are "right" is whether the appropriate decision has been made for that individual - and if it has not, there will probably need to be an appeal to the appropriate authorities.

Yes but also remembering that with the creation of ESA the goal posts were moved in a way that has resulted in people who were on Incapacity Benefit having the consequences of their illnesses or disabilities redefined as not necessarily stopping them being able to work.

Stuart,

I can see where you are coming from when you mention how you look when you have too much salvia or shake. When I was working people used to comment about the fact I sat very still or sometimes held my head at an angle. I have CP and so when I moved about it made more spasms and there were a lot of occasions where I could no longer type notes but I continued to talk to the customer and fix their problem. I think the advice Deb has given is good and would help you get used to being around people more. Also it would be worth you taking a look at the Open University website, they have computer courses which you can do from home. There are a number of Ouch Too members who could not go to University but who went on to get their degrees via the Open University.

You ask about a number of other things.

Once you have a job the usual rules for being off sick will apply for example employers dont usually need a note from a doctor unless the employee has been off sick for 7 days.

It is possible to get your employer to take your need to be off for extra days or hours by asking for a reasonable adjustment to your absence policy. For example when I was working I was allowed 24 days off before I had to have a meeting with managers about my absence while able bodied employers were only allowed 7 days.

You asked about links or guides that are worth reading. https://www.gov.uk/looking-for-work-if-youre-disabled/looking-for-a-job would be a place to start. Also when you go for your first WRAG interview it is likely you will be given leaflets to read and you can ask you advisor about things.

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so i should not open up and ask all the ways they can help me first?

Yes you should, but maybe emphasise the importance of not feeling or being pushed.

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lastly once you have work are you just forgot about? or is the help time limited? or always there?

It is going to take you time and you will need support in moving towards work and getting a job. The idea will be for you to gain confidence, and an understanding of what works best for you eg I worked in the evening and had a afternoon nap which meant I was able to work. Once you have those two things it should be easier to explain to your employer what you want and need and why, and so the need for ongoing support from the Jobcentre decreases. Given that the goal is to be in work once you reach that goal support does reduce but you will still get help from Access to Work, if you work for a bigger company they should provide help and support via Human Resources.

Gemini,

Thank you for posting that it is good to hear  >thumbsup<

Monic1511

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Hi Deb

I use (and will probably still use) the words "failed the medical"  mainly because thats what my clients say to me.  I failed to get 15  points and my esa is stopping.  I find the problem with "the outcome of your wca is that you should claim JSA" which is JC+ speak, is that some people who fail the wca try to claim JSA and are refused a claim because the JC+ advisor says that they don't meet the "fit and available for work test".

Others will come in and tell you they failed to get into the support group and are expected to go for jobs - this is just basic misunderstanding since the wrag isn't being explained very well.

just my thoughts
Monic

devine63

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Hi

"Also it would be worth you taking a look at the Open University website, they have computer courses which you can do from home. There are a number of Ouch Too members who could not go to University but who went on to get their degrees via the Open University."


The OU do an excellent job and in the past they have provided the main option for those who want / need to study from home, however I feel obliged to point out that these days the majority of Universities have good support systems in place for disabled students and they can often be suitable for anyone - the Disabled Students' Allowances funding can be over 35,000 over the period of a 3 year course, if that is needed.    When I was a Disability Advisor at a University we had the full range of students  from a young man who was paralysed from the neck down and had 24 hour care to the woman with epilepsy I already mentioned to a blind student who completed a chemistry degree.   Plus, of course, many people with less severe impairments.
regards, Deb



stuart36

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Hi..

First off, i hope everyone is having a great 2013!!  been less stressed since i joined here (Thanks & Phew!!  >biggrin<)

so what have i always wanted to do??  help others and Computers. i dont mean a bt call center, actually help mentally/disabled people like me, and if i could do that and fit computers with it well its a perfect fit. final 3 were
Mencap
Thanet School of English
ESA Personal Advisor (would that even be possible?)

 i also got in contact with some old friends one is managing director of channel 5 and other is head IT for 6 multimedia companies. i honestly think im an idiot for never contacting them before, as they are good friends.

part of message from IT friend:

First thing I would recommend is an A+ qualification it's all about computer hardware, a lot of it is obsolete now but it's still very relevant and something any IT employer would like. Then progress towards MCSE private cloud - this is made up of several exams including windows 7 Server 2008 and system Centre.
I'll do you a proper plan in a couple of days including exam numbers and timescales you should be looking at to achieve each module.

hes actually helping train people in IT.  i wasnt promised a job, but if i get those qualifications, he would help with real experience in london to go with the qualifications. so this is the route i want to do.

can open university help with any of this, i read for A+ qualification needs 500 hours hands on experience.

ive got my first work focused interview on the 29th, im still concerned a little, that ill be classed fit for work and put on JS and ill also lose my dla a little later. i have a few friends on JS, they've never got a single reply from countless 100s of jobs even though they have qualifications, the problem being no experience. so how helpful will they be for me to get the A+ qualification as a starting block??
stuart