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How much information is "too much?" - Carers UK Forum

How much information is "too much?"

All about money
I'm having some issues with my health and my DWP work coach right now.

It all started last October when my doctor picked up on the fact that I was returning high blood pressure readings. I wasn't able to hide the fact that I was being tested for hypertension until such a time that we had a rough idea of what it was that I was dealing with because I had to attend a meeting with my work coach while I was hooked up to an ambulatory blood pressure monitor.

I did everything according to protocol, including submitting sick notes as required and continuing to attend my monthly meetings with my work coach throughout the diagnosis procedure. The only real issue that I had is that he kept having me recount the whole story of my diagnosis from the beginning at every appointment. This was done in the main public room and I was having to sit there and recount up to 8 months of my medical information to him in intimate detail - right down to the fact that I was often naked from the waist up during my examinations.

I wasn't entirely comfortable with revealing this level of detail to my work coach, especially not in the public area and it caused me considerable confusion to the point where I couldn't understand why my work capability assessment was done in private when I'd be sharing the details in public a few weeks later.

I now find myself in a predicament where I am looking at having to go for breast screening and I am reluctant to notify DWP because I don't want to go through the rigmarole of having to give a blow by blow account of my medical appointments to my work coach in the public area again. I'm also mindful of the fact that this will likely become his main area of focus during my appointments if it does turn out that I have breast cancer and my doctor doesn't feel that I am fit for work.

So, I'm left wondering how intrusive they can be before I have a right to complain and request a new work coach because I don't feel able to work with this one for much longer???
Hi Sassy.

Not much out there except for the following link which deals with who should be doing what under the ESA " Work activity " scheme :

http://www.cpag.org.uk/content/ask-cpag ... 9-sanction

Obviously , possible sanctioning ... the fear of all under this ESA scheme.

Some guidance on that aspect as well in that link.

To be totally open ... or not ... difficult one to call ... unless being so leads to problems down the line ?

Having said that , a work coach IS in the driving seat ... a post code lottery ... some will , at least , be understanding and sympathetic within the guidelines they , themselves , have to observe ?

Your previous post indicated problems ... I trust that most have now been resolved ?

https://www.carersuk.org/forum/support- ... 22#p379122

Anything on the carer side we can assist with ?
Chris, if I'm honest, ever since this douche suggested that I was "work shy" on 3 separate occasions - all at times when I was covered by a fit note for limited capability for work, then suggested that I go and work in a call center with a hearing impairment that makes me reluctant to use a phone to call family members, I've really struggled to trust this guy an inch.

The whole point behind having me repeatedly recount the details of my medical appointments was because he "enjoyed listening to me telling the story" - yes, he even stated that to me. The thing that makes me uncomfortable with divulging so much information to him is the fact that whenever I mentioned that I was topless in the appointments, he would re position himself in his chair. As much as I don't want to suggest that anything untoward was going off, I do have to wonder when even my husband noticed it enough to agree that it was happening when I mentioned it to him in private.

He has indicated a desire to speak up on my behalf about the fact that my work coach usually has me trawl through the same information at every appointment - when little to nothing has really changed... but he says that he feels at a loss with how to challenge it and I'm getting to the point where he's having to force me to attend the appointments so that I don't get sanctioned as a result of not going. I know that they aren't supposed to be pleasant, but it's bad when your husband is having to force you to attend.

As far as the breast screening stuff goes, I'd rather cancel my appointment now and take the risk of it not being cancer before I have to subject myself to months of the humiliation of having to recount the details of my medical appointments with my work coach in a public setting again. That was so bad for me that I almost felt like offering to swing by the job center and pick him up on my way to my next appointment so that he could hold my hand and witness the event for himself. It's just too humiliating for me to expose myself to the potential of having to do that over again.
Sassy, I don't know anything about claiming benefits (except that for most of us they are not a 'benefit' as in a 'gift of charity' - they us GETTING BACK MONEY WE HAVE PAID INTO THE STATE OVER YEARS AND YEARS OF PAYING OUT NATIONAL INSURANCE CONTRIBUTIONS!) (so how DARE they imply this is 'charity'!)

However, I would, if I were you, go to your GP, tell him/her that you are being required to give out your medical information history in a public setting, where anyone can eavesdrop, and ask the GP if that is legal?

I would also ask that question of your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

It SCREAMS to me that it is NOT legal to require a citizen to disclose PRIVATE information about their medical history in PUBLIC.

At the very least, you should be able to sit in a private room, where the public can't hear you. That said, if this 'creepy guy' (my interpretation) is bothering you then I would launch a complaint against him officially. Can you record/film the interviews? (Whether you are allowed to or not has been raised on this forum in the past!)

I also think you should write out your history, ie, type it out, then print it out, with a regular update for each meeting, and then hand it to this horrible man to read (SILENTLY!). Mark the paper Private and Confidential.

Please don't miss your breast screening. Far more important than this creepy guy.

Also, can you demand that you be given a FEMALE work coach!

As you already know, this entire thing is to try and 'put you off claiming' - it's a deliberate act of almost intimidation and belittlement, to try and get rid of you, and save themselves money. Don't let them win!
PS I would take your husband in with you EVERY TIME.


Yes, Jenny, he also triggered my "creep radar" too - I think that's the main reason why my husband is having to fight me so hard to make me go to my appointments.

As far as recording the appointments goes, from my understanding of it (I have looked into this before), you may record (audio only) for your own purposes... though they can be awkward and demand that you cease recording your interviews - there is a whole community of people on Youtube who are doing just this... but you are not supposed to share or broadcast the recordings in any way. Given that part of what is creeping me right out is the way that he repositions himself in his chair whenever I mention being topless, though, I'm not sure how much use that would be beyond highlighting his questionable practices.

He's also very awkward about what he will and will not look at, too. Because I don't have a birth certificate or photo ID yet, I have to produce a letter as ID... and there are only certain ones that he will use to check that my name and address matches those that are on the system. I can't take a letter where I had a credit check done to verify that my name and address matches for example because he won't even touch the envelope and he asks in advance what form of ID I'm presenting him with - so, even if I did type it all out, I can't guarantee that he would actually read it.

I'm going to try calling the helpline tomorrow. I've tolerated him as long as I feel able to in the hope that he would have to go away for a while and give me to someone else for an appointment so that I could ask them to take me on instead - but he seems to be going out of his way to ensure that I only ever see him (even my husband has seen other work coaches the odd time or two since we started claiming). He even goes as far as to reschedule my appointments so that I don't see anyone other than him.

My husband does accompany me to every appointment now. It's been that way ever since we were late for an appointment and I had to begin the interview with the work coach alone. By the time my husband had parked the car and made it into the office, he virtually had to peel me off the work coach because he was deliberately pressing my buttons in an attempt to get a response out of me... a response that I almost gave him when I almost went nuclear on him. Had he been much longer in getting to me, I know that I would have been arrested that day and I'm not one that is easily given to violence.

Honey Badger, I agree... if he really needed step by step information on what the appointments entail, most of the details can be found on Google or even YouTube that he can search in his free time and spare me having to sit there squirming as I recounted all that information to him on a monthly basis. When I found the lump, even the receptionist at my surgery didn't make me explain out loud what she was rescheduling my appointment for. I feel that she went above and beyond to try to get me in to see a female doctor on the day that I missed my initial appointment, too. If a receptionist can do that for me, then I'm certainly not prepared to sit and explain all that to him over again.

I also don't think that he is fit to work with women unsupervised, either. I've tried all ways to justify his behavior towards me so that I could put it down to me reading more into the situation than is actually there - but there is no justification there at all. He's just being plain old nasty to the point where he's sending me to do commitments and trying to make me apply for jobs that I know I have no hope of maintaining in the long term.
Sassy, again, I wonder if it's worth trying to find out who his other 'clients' are, and if they are women, to find out from them if he creeps them out too!

I'm thinking something along the lines of making a claim for sexual harassment??

I still would go to your doctor, and the CAB, and ask whether citizens have a right NOT to have to discuss their medical conditions with a member of the opposite sex, whatever the circumstances. If you have a RIGHT to have a female work coach, demand that immediately!
I rang the Universal Credit helpline in the end... and it's a good job that I did, too. It turned out that I had an appointment with him this afternoon that I didn't know about.

I have requested a new work coach who is preferably female and the right to be interviewed in a private room - which they should have been doing anyway considering that I am hearing impaired. The woman I spoke to wasn't very happy about that because there aren't that many work coaches at my job centre apparently... though there were enough of them for me to see a different one every week for the first three or four appointments of my claim, until I requested the same stability that my husband was given.

Making the call was tougher for me to do than I thought it would be and it pushed my anxiety so high that I was shaking and almost ended up crying a couple of times during the call. I'm only just calming down again now.

The woman that I spoke to tried to put it down to a "Personality conflict" at first - then as I started to give her more details of what I have been subjected to, she twisted it to him "asking the right questions in the wrong way" - like, come on, get with the times here, I don't think that having me go over the same details over and over again quite fits into either of these boxes, somehow. As the call wore on, she did eventually admit that there was "something strange going on".

Apparently, what we have to do is report issues to the job centre manager and request a new work coach. The lady that I spoke to suggested to me that this might have to be done in writing - however, she also assured me that she was going to try and change my work coach before my next appointment with him that she rescheduled for next week. She also stated that the manager may also deny requests to change work coaches, too... so, who knows how this is going to conclude.

I do know one thing for certain, I am adamant that I will never see him again. I will close my claim entirely and resort to busking on the street before I ever subject myself to that treatment again... that's how desperate I am getting to get away from him.