So how does the whole process work? First you submit a short form online and then you will be contacted by an Access To Work assessor, who will go through your needs and recommend equipment for you. I would highly recommend having a think about what you want and not being afraid to ask for it. I was aware that asking for a SmartDrive was a long shot, but I took a deep breath and did it anyway, and now I am the proud owner of an all singing all dancing SmartDrive MX2+ that is my pride and joy! If you are asking for anything that isn’t an obvious need or is very expensive, you might trigger needing a face to face (or zoom to zoom) assessment – asking for the SmartDrive did this for me. This is nothing to be worried about and the lady I spoke to was really knowledgeable. She approved my SmartDrive and at no point did I feel like I was having to fight to be heard – unlike in the soul-destroying PIP process. This process took about 10 days from initially applying, but I started work 11 days after being offered the job so this may have been fast tracked.
After the assessments you have to wait 14 days for a paper report to be written and posted to you – you won’t hear anything in this time, or even know that you are waiting for a report in my experience! Once you have this report, you can order the support! For items that are deemed to be useful outside of work e.g. a SmartDrive, you will have to contribute the same percentage as the number of days a week you are not at work – for me 2/7, everything else is free to you.
It’s such a shame that access to the life changing but eye wateringly expensive equipment, such as a SmartDrive, is only funded when in relation to work. The NHS took 5 years to decide they would fund my wheelchair; they would definitely not have funded anything like a SmartDrive. My SmartDrive has opened up the world to me, hugely reducing my shoulder pain and improving my mental health by increasing my independence, yet I am only “worthy” of it in the DWP’s eyes if I am working. It speaks very poorly of the government’s perception of disabled people. I am worthy regardless of my ability to work, but that’s a big topic for another day.
Hi, I’m Isobel and I’ve been an ambulatory wheelchair user for 6 years. I currently work as an admin assistant for a London based charity, but have a science background and have a Master’s degree in biochemistry. I have recently discovered a new passion for horse riding through my local RDA group, and am rekindling my love for dance from before I was injured through adapted inclusive dance classes. I love to bake cakes, eat cakes and sip cocktails in the sun!