Written evidence submitted by Advanced
Personnel Management |
APM is a private company with representation in all
Australian states and territories. APM's UK operations commenced
in October 2010. Our core business is to provide assessment, vocational
rehabilitation and employment services assistance for clients
with an injury, disability or health condition in order to optimise
their social and economic participation in the community.
APM is the largest private sector provider of Australian
Government funded Job Capacity Assessments (JCAs) and Disability
Management Services (DMS). APM has more than 17 years experience
working within the Workers' Compensation, Life/Income Protection
and Compulsory Third Party Motor Vehicle Insurance markets, and
providing consultancy services for employers.
In 2002, with the introduction of the Australian
"Better Assessment Model", APM was awarded a National
contract to provide Australian Government funded Work Capacity
Assessments (WCAs.) In the period 2002-2006, APM completed more
than 150,000 WCAs and also participated in the Early Intervention
& Engagement Pilot (EI&E) in 2005 and the Direct Registration
WCA pilot in 2006.
In 2006, APM was awarded the largest non-government
provider market share of the Job Capacity Assessment contract
(JCA) in all Employment Service Areas throughout Australia. APM
has performed more than 450,000 Australian Government funded interview
based holistic assessments (in the form of WCAs and JCAs).
APM assists more than 80,000 Australians each year
in 478 locations across the country. Our service reach extends
from all capital cities to some of the most remote locations in
Australia. Our work with the Australian Government and private
sectors has provided us with experience working with people with
a diverse range of disabilities, health conditions and injury
types; together with an understanding of the socioeconomic, personal,
psychological and geographic challenges faced by many people in
their day to day lives.
APM's work with employers provides our consultants
with a realistic understanding of the requirements of work, employer
expectations and the interface between work and an individual's
APM UK have been afforded the opportunity to deliver
'front end assessment' to both Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
and Incapacity Benefit Customers (IB) within the context of the
Work Programme. We will be working alongside A4e in five contract
package areas. These are East London, Thames Valley and Hampshire
& Isle of Wight, East Midlands, Merseyside, Lancashire and
Cumbria and South Yorkshire. We will be co-located within A4e
office sand work with front line advisors to ensure a warm handover
of customers from the assessment stage, allowing us to provide
further support to A4e advisors should this be required.
Our model will see potential job seekers assessed
by a qualified Allied Health Professional who will ascertain the
individual barriers to employment and make recommendations on
the interventions required to progress that individual efficiently
to a sustainable employment outcome. Following the assessment,
a report will be produced which details:
recommended level of support that the customer will require to
transition to employment.
type of skills required by the Employment Service Provider (end
to end job broker who will support the customer for the remainder
of their journey into employment and beyond) to best meet the
individual need of the customer.
interventions that are required to assist the customer into sustainable
employment, for example the critical issues that must be incorporated
into an Action Plan.
number of hours that the customer is able to participate in either
employment or work related activity at the time of the assessment.
approximate date when the customer will be ready for full time
employment subject to the recommendations that have been given.
The use of Allied Health Professionals, with both
a knowledge of the workplace and the customers disability, provides
an informed guidance regarding how injury, illness and disability
can be successfully accommodated by employers. Doctors possess
the disability and medical condition knowledge whilst Allied Health
Consultants with a Vocational Rehabilitation background also understand
the work place requirements. Vocationally trained Allied Health
Professionals are able to successfully integrate these two aspects
and provide informed guidance on vocational direction, thereby
facilitating sustainable employment.
"The Department's communications to customers
going through the assessment and whether the information, guidance
and advice provided by the Department and Jobcentre Plus is effective
in supporting customers through the process."
believes that the manner of DWP's initial communication with its
customers can have a lasting effect on the likeliness of an individual
to move off benefits and into work. To this end, communication
must be clear, concise and appropriate to the personal circumstances
of the people that it is seeking to serve.
strongly believes that assessors must be skilled in dealing with
the multiple and complex barriers faced by people with disabilities
and the multitude of medical, psychological and social elements
that can form barriers to labour market entry.
"The Work Capability Assessment including: the
assessment criteria; the service provided by Atos staff; the suitability
of assessment centres; and customers' overall experience of the
APM considers that:
greater amount of time needs to be allocated to the process to
allow for maximum engagement of clients at this critical early
stage. The additional time would be used to link clients to the
appropriate employment service providers and source additional
information from treating doctors and other medical professionals
assessor could link the client to appropriate medical or prevocational
services to address barriers that would have previously seen a
customer exempted from participating to their capacity (eg poorly
managed medical and psychological conditions). This would improve
the transition process and reduce systematic delays.
Health Professional staff, with a vocational rehabilitation background,
would bring both the experience of working within a client focused
model of service delivery. This approach would ensure a joined
up method of assessment and ultimately deliver better outcomes
for the DWP and its customers.
"The decision-making process and how it could
be improved to ensure that customers are confident that the outcome
of their assessment is a fair and transparent reflection of their
capacity for work."
APM's experience, the assessment model needs to ensure flexibility
by not placing limitations on the Allied Health Professional's
ability to exercise professional judgment.
recommends that Allied Health Professionals are provided scope
in regards to their professional opinion by reducing the rigidity
of prescribed phrasing, allowing Allied Health Professionals (assessors)
to exercise professional judgement and make recommendations.
fully supports the need for assessors to have appropriate professional
qualifications, skills and training to ensure consistent, valid
and reliable assessment outcomes. APM believes this is of critical
importance given the responsibility of the assessment in the determination
of benefit eligibility and income and their ability to be challenged
within the appeals process.
recommends that referral pathways are separated from income determination
decisions. This will help to ensure that customers are matched
to the employment service provider that best meets their needs
and to be able to commence with the most appropriate service provider
with minimal delay.
recommends a highly functioning system to allow for appropriate
access to the relevant information (subject to privacy and social
security legislation) for staff across agencies. Furthermore,
this system needs to allow access to historical client information
to ensure appropriate follow up and referral.
"The appeals process, including the time taken
for the appeals process to be completed; and whether customers
who decide to appeal the outcome of their assessment have all
the necessary guidance, information and advice to support them
through the process."
believes in an holistic approach to the complex issues arising
from long-term benefit dependency. We consider that a "one
size fits all" philosophy is wholly inappropriate in this
context. Furthermore, professionally accredited assessors should
be able to complete an accurate assessment of an individuals benefit
eligibility against the department's criteria which is both robust
and defensible. Additionally, APM believes the focus of the assessment
should also be to engage with the client, and to refer those appropriate
clients to an employment service provider at the time of assessment.
This approach would diminish the focus on whether the client "passes
or fails the assessment" and increase the focus on the assistance
that will be provided for the client to participate in the workforce.
properly functioning system of this type model would lessen the
number of appeals against determinations perceived to be negative
and diminish confusion amongst all stakeholders.
absence of a joined up system that draws assessors, medical professionals
and employment experts onto a single platform will inevitably
cause delays and appeals. This could be due to systematic failings
as much as genuine factors affecting appellants.
APM understands that a robust, evidence based defensible
assessment of a jobseeker's work capacity underpins the success
of any government welfare to work initiative.
Our nine year partnership with the Australian Government
has provided us with extensive experience in assessing the impact
of injury, illness, disability and health on a client's capacity
for work in hour bandwidths and determining medical impairment
within the legislative framework of Australian Social Security
As active participants in the Work Programme we are
committed to bringing the benefits of our expertise to the United
Kingdom market. We believe that Australia's recent history of
policy development will be of much relevance to this inquiry.