Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Customer Journey Mapping & Attendance Allowance

On my other blog - two of the posts that have proved to be more popular than most have been the links to Stoke City Council's work on customer journey mapping. Indeed partly as a result of the interest they have received via my other blog - they are now running workshops about their model. (The links can be found here and here)
I wish them well and look forward to hearing about their workshop which is happening early in November. (I have just found out this morning that the workshop is very nearly full - so I am very happy to have played a small part in this success. Watch this space for a report of the workshop.)
I think the idea of a process to enable and encourage service providers to see their service through the eyes of the user is enormously important. So often (and this is not just with public services of course) when you seek a service you get a response that appears to not only talk a different language to you - but also live in a very different world.
From recent experience of trying to understand how the process of 'Attendance Allowance' works (on behalf of an older relative) - I have been met with what appears to be a Catch 22. The eligibility criteria for obtaining Attendance Allowance say that "your disability must be severe enough for you to need" help with washing, dressing etc. In my dictionary the word 'need' implies that you cannot do without such help. However, Attendance Allowance ostensibly exists (at least in part) to help people with disabilities live independent lives. But how can this be the case because if you needed such help - you would not be able to (albeit possibly struggling to...) live alone.
So I phoned the Department for Work and Pensions helpline yesterday. I had a confidential and non attributable chat with a very helpful adviser. She explained that some people who should receive Attendance Allowance often do not apply because of this issue. She gave the example of a person crawling up their stairs on their hands and knees to get to bed. That person may feel they don't need assistance but they could do with some help. Their lives could be immeasurably better with some help. A person in such circumstances would get Attendance Allowance. However... would that person apply?
This seems to be a clear example of where some 'customer journey mapping' might help to sort out this service / benefits arrangement. Have the DWP ever spoken to people in these circumstances to understand their perspective on all of this?
I do not want to have a cynical view that the DWP has an interest in people not applying for Attendance Allowance - but unless they look again at the language of the legislation and guidance - as given on the relevant page of the Direct.gov.uk website then I may have to revise my view.
So I hope the DWP will show leadership here (and maybe even attend the workshop being run by Stoke City Council) and think about Attendance Allowance from the perspective of the claimant.

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