Can YOU wash your right arm with your right arm?
The Department accepted that Sally had no functional ability in her left arm, to the extent that she had no movement or ability to grip on that left side. In spite of this, the awarded her just 6 points for the daily living component and these included no points for Washing and bathing.
It does seem pretty clear that a person cannot wash their right arm with that arm. Descriptor 4(f) reads, “Needs assistance to be able to wash their body between the shoulders and waist” and this is why we wanted 4 points for Washing and bathing. Sally had sensibly obtained a report from an occupational therapist and to avoid the wait for the local authority service, she approached a private OT service at a cost of about £250. The report made no mention of PIP, which added to its value, in my view.
The occupational therapist tested Sally’s left arm and confirmed that there was no sensation in the lower arm. We explained in our written submission to the tribunal that scars on Sally’s left arm had been caused by splashes, burns and scalds which she had been unaware of at the time and the OT report referred to those scars, which was also helpful.
The tribunal judge explained at the start of the hearing that they were already persuaded that Sally qualified for the standard rate of the daily living component but since we wanted an award of the enhanced rate, the hearing would go ahead and oral evidence would be needed. Sally did very well and her evidence supported what was in our submission. This, together with the medical evidence and the occupational therapy report persuaded the tribunal that Sally reasonably required supervision to be able to prepare and cook a simple meal, increasing her score for Preparing food from the 2 points awarded by the DWP to 4 points. It is worth noting that the legislation defines “supervision” as meaning “the continuous presence of another person for the purpose of ensuring the claimant’s safety”.
Sally’s arrears from that hearing in Leicester amounted to around £5,300 but it would have been better if more common sense had been applied and the 12 points had been recommended by the assessor, or awarded by the first decision maker or the decision maker who carried out the reconsideration.