When Belinda Medlock had a stroke at the age of 47 she thought she would be able to return to her job after a few weeks.
She had recently started a role working with children with behavioural difficulties and was keen to return as soon as possible.
However, although she has made improvements, her stroke left her with cognitive issues and chronic fatigue which made returning to employment impossible.
Unable to return to work she applied for help under the Personal Independent Payment scheme – previously the Disability Living Allowance.
Her first assessment went well and she felt that although it was difficult she was given time to give a clear picture of how her stroke affects her life.
Sadly in her review assessment, 16 months later, things were quite different.
“In my review assessment I felt it was rushed, I was asked unhelpful closed questions, and interrupted several times,” recalled Belinda.
“I don’t feel that my specific needs in the interview were taken into account or that I was able to easily describe what my daily difficulties were and how they affected me.
“Some of the information I gave was also dismissed as irrelevant, when in fact it was very relevant to the difficulties I face daily.
“My biggest difficulty is neuro fatigue and it’s so difficult to explain the impact of this to someone who doesn’t understand it or has not seen these effects on me.
“For instance, whilst I am mobile, fatigue has such an impact on me while I’m walking and there are days when I cannot walk outside the house purely due to its impact. That clearly wasn’t taken into account.
“I was unwell for the week after the interview due to the effects of the fatigue, which they obviously don’t see.”
Belinda, who suffered her stroke in 2015, said one of the worse things about the assessment was the lack of compassion shown to her.
She said: “It was degrading and I found the assessor to be very uncaring in her attitude. When you’re dealing with your whole life being turned upside down you would expect a little understanding and compassion.
“I have been extremely stressed and anxious as I wait for the result. The whole process took such a lot out of me. It was a horrible experience.”