In the vast realm of nursing, few dare to tread the unfamiliar ground, redefining the art and science of being a nurse. This article will showcase the courage of a Filipino UK Nurse who stepped back from conventional bedside nursing and faced the wins and challenges of being a PIP Disability Analyst.
Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a type of financial assistance provided to UK citizens who are suffering from long-term health conditions or disability affecting their capability to work and earn to support themselves. PIP is designed to help individuals with the extra costs they may face due to their condition. A Disability Assessor is a professional who is responsible for assessing the eligibility of individuals to receive PIP and they play a crucial role in determining the support individuals receive based on their unique circumstances.
Due to the nature of her job, the Filipino UK Nurse who shared her story wants to keep her identity undisclosed. Nevertheless, her journey illuminates the often overlooked roles that nurses can assume and the profound impact they can make beyond traditional bedside care. Join us in this blog post as we delve into her remarkable path, exploring the reasons behind her unconventional career choice and the unique perspective she brings to a role that challenges norms and inspires change.
Unveiling the responsibilities of my role…
Before taking on this role, I was working as a band 5 Staff Nurse in a very busy acute medicine unit in one of the main hospitals in London. It was very stressful and felt my PIN was at risk so I tried to find other opportunities as soon as I passed my OSCE.
I stumbled upon this position and it immediately captured my interest prompting me to apply for the job. The role does not require previous experience in Disability Analysis but you need to be a registered health professional with a valid pin.
The role of a Disability Assessor involves evaluating an individual's ability to carry out various daily living activities and mobility tasks. This assessment helps determine the level of support and financial assistance the person is entitled to under the PIP scheme. The assessment process is based on a set of criteria and descriptors outlined by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
As a disability analyst/assessor, you have to complete either face-to-face, telephone or paper-based assessments on claimants (depending on your contract - front office or back office). After the assessments, you then need to complete a report that meets the standards required by the Department of Work and Pensions. You'll be gathering information from the claimants, looking at evidence/medical documents and writing a report to explain how their condition affects their function.
This depends on what company you are working for and which area in the country you're working in. Most company pay ranges from £35,000 - £42,000 + potential bonuses. The higher end of the pay usually is for the London area/ Inside M25. There are bonuses but this is linked to performance and overtime.
Perks and Benefits of the Job…
Perks include decent pay, no nights, nor weekends (unless opting to do overtime on a weekend) which aligns with my standards of work-life balance. Our company also offers decent sick pay and maternity pay once the employee has passed the probation period. We can also purchase additional leave and have the option to do a part-time contract after regularisation to the role.
Part of our employee package is enticing benefits such as private health care/insurance, a private pension scheme, critical illness and life insurance. Additionally, the company I work for reimburses the NMC yearly membership payments.
In terms of maximising income to suit the employees’ needs (ie. saving for mortgage, car or travel), there are always overtime opportunities which I grab if I need extra money. If stated in your contract, there is also an opportunity to permanently work from home. I've been working from home since Covid and I only have to report to the office once a month for meetings but again each company is different.
Although this job is a niche, there's a potential to thrive in this job even if you're a newbie nurse. There are also some career opportunities within the account/company itself.
Hurdles and Challenges…
With all the perks associated with the job, it also comes with challenges that I need to bravely overcome to succeed in this role.
Firstly, it comes with a steep learning curve. From training expectations, and the gradual increase in the number of cases/assessments you have to do in a day and from acquiring approval from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) as a certified disability assessor.
Secondly, there are numerous audits that I have to pass reviewing my performance as a Disability Analyst. Reports will be audited and you'll get constant report feedback, and regular calls/ assessments observations by your clinical support lead.
Lastly, the assessment criteria are dynamic and can change a lot so I always have to keep myself updated. The criteria by which we evaluate the claimants is based on what the government stipulates and we have to strictly follow them along with our critical judgement as an analyst.
Advice to other nurses looking to venture into the role…
As a starting step, check the visa requirements of any job role. Before Covid, a lot of these companies offer working visas but recently they do require to have at least ILR or citizenship.
Diligently research and compare the companies. You may encounter that some companies may pay higher than others but it may be because you are expected to complete more assessments in a day than others. My advice is to go for the ones with decent pay. It may not be the highest but you’ll be better off in the end taking the extra cases as overtime.
Improving basic IT skills and typing speed can also help you succeed in this role. I think at the moment they require at least 36 wpm. However, having typing speed of more than 45wpm would make the transition a bit easier as there is a lot of multitasking you'll be doing. Furthermore, having good IT skills significantly enhances the effectiveness and efficiency of the role. As a disability analyst, your ability to navigate and utilize various technological tools plays a crucial role in providing accurate, timely and comprehensive evaluations.
Preparation is the key. Like all other jobs, if it's new to you it won't be as easy as you think. Research about the role. As much as not all patients you encounter in your bedside/clinical role before will be nice, it's the same in this job. It's not uncommon to get challenging ones.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions. From recruitment, during training and eventually, if you decide to go for the job. As it may differ for each company, ask about their expectations, how many cases/ assessments and reports you have to do in a day, the training and probation passing percentage and what will happen if you don't meet the required standards. Moreover, clarify the contract specifics - Are you site-based or work-from-home? What are the expected working hours especially if you have children as you may have to plan childcare arrangements? In this way, you will be better prepared and be able to deliver what is expected from you.
We hope this story has given you a deeper insight into the role of a Nurse Disability Assessor. It may not be the traditional bedside nursing we were used to but it may be something that you will enjoy when you get the chance to work as such. The novelty and work-life balance that this role offers could be the fulfilling career you may be looking for.