Face-to-Face Consultation Process

In line with the latest government guidance, the Department for Communities (DfC) has taken the decision to resume face-to-face consultations for some health and disability-related benefits customers.

In order to protect against the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), we have introduced some new safety measures at our consultation centres and all our staff have been trained on COVID-19 safety.

Please watch this short video for more information.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak - important information to read before attending your consultation

Please read the below guidance carefully before attending your face-to-face consultation. There is also more information about attending your consultation here.

Before your Consultation

You must not attend your consultation if you or anyone coming to the consultation with you:

  • have symptoms of COVID-19
  • are following government guidance to self-isolate, including after entering the UK from abroad, or
  • have been contacted by the NHS and advised to stay at home

The most important symptoms of COVID-19 are the recent onset of any of the following:

  • a new continuous cough
  • a high temperature
  • a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell

If you cannot attend your appointment because of the reasons above, it is important that you contact us as soon as possible so that we can rearrange your appointment.

If the consultation centre you are due to attend is closed because of local restrictions, we will attempt to contact you to rearrange your appointment.

We will also need to know as soon as possible if you:

  • need a translator or interpreter
  • would like to see a health professional of the same gender

Who can you bring with you to your consultation

If possible, to help maintain social distancing, please come to your consultation alone. If you need to have someone with you for support, you can bring one adult from your household or 'support bubble'. If you need to bring someone who is not from your household, or 'support bubble', please contact us straightaway.

Your companion should not speak for you, but they can help you to answer any questions or explain the difficulties you face more clearly.

Please do not bring children with you. If you cannot make childcare arrangements, please contact us as soon as possible so that we can discuss the best way to carry out your consultation.

What you need to bring with you to your consultation

You need to bring identification documents with you to your consultation to show the disability assessor. You should show them one item from the 'Primary documents' list. If you do not have any of these items, you should show 3 documents from the 'Secondary documents' list. If you do not have acceptable proof of identity, we may not be able to do the consultation.

Primary documents

  • A current passport
  • Official European Community ID Card
  • Certificate of Registration - Workers Registration Scheme Certificate

Secondary documents

  • Full/provisional driving licence
  • Electoral Identity Card
  • Senior Citizen bus pass
  • Travel pass with photograph affixed
  • Standard acknowledgement letter (SAL)/ARC Card
  • EL3 (similar to SAL from the home office)
  • Adoption Certificate
  • Form GV3 (issued to foreign nationals)
  • UK Residence Permit
  • NIHE rent book
  • Rates Collection Agency documents
  • Life assurance/insurance documents
  • Paid fuel/telephone bill in customers name
  • Marriage Certificate
  • Original full or short birth certificate
  • Divorce/annulment papers
  • Certificate/contract of employment in HM forces
  • Certificate/contract of employment under the crown
  • Certificate/contract of employment in the Merchant Navy
  • P714 (tax certificate)
  • Solicitors letter containing information which helps to establish identity
  • Cheque book
  • Cheque guarantee card
  • Store/credit/Post Office Account card
  • Trade Union membership card
  • Apprentice Indentures
  • Vehicle registration/motor insurance documents
  • Wage slip, P45, or P60 from current or recent employer
  • Medical Card
  • Mortgage repayment documents

You should also bring along any medication or specialised equipment you may need during your consultation. We have a hearing loop, if you need one.

If you have new evidence about how your condition affects your daily life, which you have not already sent to the DFC, please bring this to your consultation.

For example, reports from your:

  • Physiotherapist
  • Social Worker
  • Counsellor
  • Support Worker
  • Consultant
  • Nurse
  • Doctor or GP

You can also bring care or treatment plans from:

  • Occupational Therapists
  • Social Workers
  • Community Psychiatric Nurses
  • Learning Disability Support Teams

Remember, the evidence should show us how your condition affects you and not be just confirmation of your condition or the medication you take. This is because PIP is based on how your condition affects you and not the condition itself.

Face coverings

You, and anyone who comes with you to your consultation, must wear a suitable face covering. By face covering, we mean something which safely covers the nose and mouth. If you do not already have a face covering, a disposable face mask can be provided when you arrive at the consultation centre.

Please contact us straightaway if you, or anyone attending with you, have a reason for not wearing a suitable face covering in line with government guidance.

This is to make sure we have the right safety measures in place to keep you and our staff safe during your consultation.

Travelling to your appointment

Make sure that you know where your appointment is taking place, plan your journey and give yourself enough time to arrive on time. If you have any concerns about travelling to the consultation centre, please contact us straightaway.

For more information about travelling safely, and to find out what your local guidance and restrictions are, please click here.

Audio recording

If you want to have your consultation recorded please phone us on 0808 178 8116 before your appointment. At the end of the appointment you will be given a copy of the recording.

The consultation centre

To protect you and our staff when attending your consultation and to reduce the risk of anyone spreading or getting COVID-19, you must:

  • not arrive more than 10 minutes early to help us make sure there is enough space for everyone to keep a safe distance from each other
  • use the hand sanitisers provided
  • make sure you stay at least 2 metres apart from others at all times
  • follow any signs and instructions displayed within the consultation centre, for instance there may be one-way systems in place

Please let reception know that you have arrived for your appointment. The reception area will have clear screens to help keep everyone safe. You and anyone you bring with you will be asked to provide your details for Coronavirus contact tracing.

You may have to wait before you can go into your consultation. Seating in our waiting room has been arranged so that everyone is able to keep 2 metres apart.

The consultation centre will be accessible and disabled toilets will be available - we cannot help you to use these.

During your consultation

After each consultation, the room will be cleaned ready for the next appointment.

All consultation rooms allow for 2 metres social distancing between you and anyone you bring with you, and the disability assessor. You and anyone you bring with you must keep your face covering on during the consultation. The disability assessor will also keep their face covering on.

The disability assessor will ask you or your appointed representative questions to find out how your condition affects your daily living and getting around. They will take notes throughout the consultation.

The consultation will not be a full physical examination or an attempt to diagnose your medical symptoms. It will focus on how your life is affected by the challenges you face as a result of your health condition or disability. Each person is different and will be treated with dignity and respect.

Any physical examination that may be required will only involve you performing simple movements relative to your condition and within your abilities. You will not be asked to do anything that will cause you discomfort. The disability assessor will observe you at a distance of 2 metres while you demonstrate any movements. They will not come into physical contact with you.

This examination may also include a Mental Function Consultation which will be tailored to your individual situation. The disability assessor may also be able to see some of the difficulties that you have with certain tasks during the time you spend together, which can add further value to the report.

You will only be assessed as being able to do something if you can do it safely, to an acceptable standard, repeatedly and in a reasonable time.

If the disability assessor suspects that you, or anyone with you, may have COVID-19 symptoms, they will stop the consultation. You will be asked to go straight home, maintaining social distancing and minimising contact with others. You will need to follow guidance to self-isolate and arrange for a COVID-19 test as soon as possible.

Leaving the consultation centre

The disability assessor will make sure the corridor is clear before you leave the room. You will be asked to leave the building as soon as possible to reduce the number of people in the consultation centre at any one time.