Assessments for physical and mental conditions are necessary to determine who is ‘fit for work’ and who requires additional support through benefits, care and so on. However, this is not something that can be determined easily; there are a lot of different factors to consider, all of which can affect a person differently depending on their condition. There will be instances in which it is obvious to an assessor if a person requires additional help, but there are plenty of cases that have been reported over the last few years in which problems have arisen because the assessor incorrectly determined a person fit to work. There have been suggestions that some of these cases are down to corrupt practices, it’s not always as clear cut as that.
For instance, there are various conditions a person might suffer from that have no immediate physical symptoms or even consistent symptoms, and this can complicate the assessment process and make it difficult to draw a fair, reflective conclusion. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, otherwise known as CRPS or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), is a condition that has proven very difficult to treat because of the vagueness of the condition. It is known to be a continuous condition that is triggered by an injury to a limb, resulting in debilitating pain that can last for the rest of the person’s life. A condition like this would be incredibly difficult to assess for the simple reason that CRPS sufferers have days where their pain is more manageable than others, while they also have days where the pain is so severe that they would certainly not be considered fit to work.
What can be done to combat this? Aside from a revision of assessment policies that takes such conditions into consideration, there is also a huge need for better societal understanding. Better understanding leads to more research, and the lack of understanding already surrounding the condition means that there is also a lack of resources available. This includes crps support for carers, friends and families, the network of people that often require the most support in order to help the person closest to them to cope. In instances like this, it’s not enough to provide support just to the person suffering from the condition.
In order to improve the quality of assessment for people suffering from complex conditions like crps, there needs to be a larger amount of resources and support networks that can be easily accessed from the home. It’s vital that there is a renewed focus on reflex sympathetic dystrophy awareness in order to prevent people with the condition being incorrectly assessed and being forced into situations that they are not capable of carrying out. Assessments of this nature can lead to increases in depression and anxiety, further injuries and in the worst cases, death. It’s a particularly hot topic at the moment in the light of severe government cuts and if there’s one thing that tells us, it’s that raised awareness is the key to improving the quality of life for people suffering from this poorly understood condition.