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PIP testing for the DWP

In August Tenfold was approached by the Department of Work of Pensions (DWP) to ask if we could help find people with a learning disability willing to test the beta version of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) online application form. We put that call out and a group of 6 people was soon found. The user testing was conducted on a one a one-to-one basis and observed by members of the DWP team and each participant with a learning disability had independent support.

One of the people involved with supporting on the day was Thomas Chalk, here he tells us about the experience:

Thomas’ story

“I recently supported two people to help test a website for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). The website is for people to use to apply for Personal Independence Payments (PIP). The website is still in development and to make sure it is easy to understand, the DWP are testing it to see if there is still more work to do.

I supported one woman who can answer the questions if they are asked so that she can reply ‘yes’ or ‘no’, and another woman who gave full answers and typed some of them herself. The DWP wanted to test the website as it will actually be used – which for some people means having support from someone like me.

The DWP staff who were running the testing were very friendly and welcoming. It was clear they were very interested to find out what people think of the website. As well as watching us using the website they recorded what we were saying. This means they can listen to it again to see which parts of filling in the application were hardest.

We could tell that the questions had been made easier to understand than most benefits forms. But there were still some that were quite difficult to answer. What made them difficult was not usually the words that were used – it was the questions that asked about lots of different things all in one go.
Another thing we noticed was that it can be very hard to think about all the different things that someone might need support with. The questions help this a bit by asking about different parts of people’s lives. But it was still difficult and doing it properly needed a lot of writing.

While supporting one of the people to fill in the online application I realised that she often did not say the things that she needed support with. Her independence is very important to her and something she is very proud of. This means she wanted to say all the things she can do, not all the things she needs some support with. It also means she might say she needs no support with something when in fact she does have staff available – even if only on the phone. (An example of this is when she is out alone.) So I needed to suggest that there are some things where she is slightly less independent than she feels. If it was a real application I would have to do this to make sure she got the money she is entitled to.

It was really interesting to see the work that the DWP are doing. We hope that the testing we did with them will help the next version of the website be even better. More and more work is being done about easy information and about helping people with learning disabilities to be in control of things like benefits applications. If websites and other information get this right it is a kind of support for people to be more independent.”

Thomas Chalk, Involvement Coordinator, Specialised Supported Living Service, Leeds & York Partnerships NHS Foundation Trust

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