Stat of the day: Health questionnaires and recruitment

By Angela Matthews

Who’s up for some good news?

Today we’re on the use of health questionnaires during recruitment, and it looks like things have improved since the introduction of the Equality Act (which says that questions about disability and health should not be asked before offering a job to someone). This research has come via an At Work Partnership press release and has been published in a recent edition of the Occupational Health at Work journal.

  • In 2006, 36 per cent of organisations were using pre-employment health questionnaires. This figure has now fallen to 8 per cent. The research found that questionnaires now tend to be used as part of a conditional offer rather than before an offer of employment is made. In 2006, many organisations were asking extensive pre-employment questions about conditions such as epilepsy, mental health and – for women – gynaecological issues.
  • 30 per cent of organisations now ask for a ‘declaration of health’ rather than asking questions in a ‘questionnaire’ format. The average number of questions in 2006 was 28, and this has now fallen to 15.

It therefore appears that the Equality Act has helped to improve things. But our work is not yet done:

  • Two thirds of organisations ask questions about disability for monitoring purposes but, unfortunately, 1 in 5 are allowing the recruiting panel to see this information;
  • 93 per cent of organisations ask if adjustments are needed for an interview, but 61 per cent ask this on the application form.

The ‘good fight’ continues…

Stat of the day: Occupations of people with ‘severe disabilities’

By Angela Matthews

Apologies for the statistics silence. They are piling up, and I will get around to writing them. It was imperative that I write a disability stat for International Day of Disabled People, though – the theme of which this year is Break Barriers, Open Doors: For an inclusive society and development for all. This morning’s statistics release from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is particularly relevant.

ONS’ data looks at the occupations of disabled people whose daily activities are “limited a lot” (which ONS also refer to as “severe disability”). There are seven classes of job types. Class 7 refers to the ‘routine’ occupations such as labourers, bar staff and lorry drivers, and Class 1 refers to the managerial and professional occupations such as lawyers, doctors and architects. The data finds that the largest number of disabled people occupy Class 7 (routine) roles, and the smallest number occupy Class 1 (managerial/professional) roles. This, as ONS advocate, suggests that significant barriers to higher skilled professions remain for people with severe disabilities.

Another interesting aspect of the data is that the number of severely disabled people working in ‘routine’ (Class 7) or ‘semi-routine’ (Class 6) jobs is greater than the number of severely disabled people who are unemployed. ONS suggest that this indicates that disability does not prevent people with severe disabilities from accessing working altogether, but that it just appears that certain types of work are more accessible than others for those with severe disabilities – an issue in itself.

What could be the reasons for this? If we look to earlier data from ONS (mentioned in a previous ‘Stat if the Day’ some months ago), disabled people indicated what they felt the barriers to employment are. The ‘top’ barriers were:
Lack of qualifications;
Difficulties with transport;
Modifications or adjustments to the job;
Attitudes of employers.
Could ‘routine’ positions be more accommodating to disabled people due to many of these roles often being able to operate in shift or flexible patterns which can often be switched among employees if flexibility is required? We see this in the Advice Team often where some employers have told us during a query that they have moved shifts around as an adjustment for an employee’s disability. In some cases, this has allowed for an employee to work only afternoon/evening shifts when mornings are difficult due to  side-effects of medication or where a disability tends to fluctuate (for example).

Do any of the four barriers bulleted above become more of an issue as the grade or level of occupation increases? How much is it possible to sustain flexibility at higher levels of occupation, how much is down to an employer’s attitudes, and how much is due to the lack of provision of – or understanding of – reasonable adjustments?

 

Stat of the day: AD/HD in black and minority ethnicities

By Angela Matthews

I have been looking at a recent report from ROTA (Race on the Agenda) that looks for links between ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) and ethnicity. This came out of some work that ROTA did with BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) groups.

In a ‘Stat of the day’ back in mid-August we saw that the BBC had reported a more than 50 per cent rise in prescriptions to treat ADHD. ROTA’s report actually quotes the Care Quality Commission’s figure of a 56 per cent rise between 2007 and 2012. I was excited at the thought of ROTA presenting us with a breakdown of this increase by ethnicity. Unfortunately, since these figures are based on numbers of prescriptions, no such data is available. There have, however, been other studies – although some warn to approach them open-mindedly (for a variety of reasons).

The studies have generally looked at ‘symptoms’ of ADHD rather than the diagnosis of ADHD itself – such as conduct issues or hyperactivity. Overall, 5.8 per cent of children in the UK are affected by conduct issues. The following figures show the percentage of children affected within each ethnic group:

White 6.1 %
Black 5.9 %
Bangladeshi and Pakistani    4 %
Indian 0.6 %

Other studies have quoted Black Caribbean and Mixed White and Black Caribbean children as being between 1.5 and 2 times more likely to be affected by behaviour, social and emotional disorders.

Why do some BAME groups appear to be more affected by symptoms of ADHD than others? There have been mixed reactions to this. Some say that it is due to stressful, non-inclusive environments (possibly at school). But others say that even seeing “Black” as a category is too broad and does not account for the immensely diverse experiences of the people that fall within it.

What is more confident in terms of what we do know is that when children display symptoms typical of ADHD in school environments, they are often excluded from lessons and alternative activities are often non-academic. Exclusion in this way can lead to low expectations and low self-esteem which, of course, can have an impact on the next years, future education and, potentially, later employment. So, regardless of ethnic origin, the effects could be equally as serious.

The conclusion of ROTA’s report? That there is currently not enough evidence to conclude!

Stat of the day: Activity limitations in local authorities

By Angela Matthews

The Office for National Statistics has released more data on “activity limitations” within different local authorities this morning. I’m not going to comment on the different locations at the moment as the data is vast, but there are some interesting observations on age and gender. The data looks at England and Wales (i.e. not all of the UK) in 2011.

The question asked is, “Are your day-to-day activities limited because of a health problem or disability which has lasted, or is expected to last, at least 12 months?” A fifth of respondents said that they were. A large number considering that we are just looking England and Wales.

Respondents are then asked to determine if their daily activities are limited “a little” or “a lot”. 20.5 per cent said they were limited a little, and 18 per cent said they were limited a lot. Whether or not “substantial” adverse effect (the wording used in the Equality Act’s definition of ‘disability’) kicks in at “a little” or “a lot”, I’m not sure.

The data shows that gender divides within limitations begin to occur at around the age of 75 – almost 20 per cent of women report a limitation and almost 19 per cent of men. The explanations for this are reported to be around women having higher incidences of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis that can lead to other problems (such as falls and mobility difficulties). Other conditions also common among older women are depression and back problems.

Stat of the day: The mobility equipment market

By Angela Matthews

This ‘Stat of the day’ is a bit money-orientated, but I found it quite interesting. I’ve been looking at a 2010 report about the mobility equipment market and was staggered by some huge numbers.

The British Healthcare Trades Association reports some massive annual figures:

Mobility products £200 million
Community equipment (i.e. products to support ‘everyday’ tasks, such as hoists, standing frames, can openers standing frames) £270 million
Pressure area care products £105 million
Ortheses (i.e. support products that are applied ‘in addition to’ the body,      such as braces and sole inserts)   £90 million
Prostheses (i.e. products used ‘in place of’ a part of the body, such as artificial limbs and hip replacements)   £55 million

This market is big business! The report quotes other providers boasting much higher estimates up to £1.67 billion. One provider puts the market for powered wheelchairs and scooters alone at £800 million.

The Department for Health estimates that there are 7 million people who would benefit from community equipment. Of this number, 3 million would be supported by the State, meaning that 4 million people are potentially self-funding their equipment.

Stat of the day: Economic activity of the long and shot-term sick

By Angela Matthews

The latest Labour Market Statistics have been released by the Office for National Statistics this morning. The data shows that 84,000 less people are economically inactive due to long-term sickness. Economic inactivity due to short-term sickness, however, has risen by 22,000. A ‘wave’ illustration of the trends since 2011 looks like this:

Line graph showing the number of long-term and temporary sick between 2011 and 2013

Stat of the day: Accessible housing for young disabled people

By Angela Matthews

I’ve had such fun working on something for someone this morning that I’ve deleted my scheduled ‘Stat of the day’ and replaced it with this.

I’ve been looking at a 2012 report called Locked Out that surveyed 200 young disabled people (between the ages of 16 and 24) for their views on finding accessible housing. Here come the stats:

  • 90 per cent said they are as keen to get on to the property ladder as non-disabled people their age;
  • 94 per cent said that information on property websites about accessibility of the properties would help when looking for accommodation;
  • 70 per cent said it is difficult to find accessible accommodation due to the limited knowledge of estate or letting agents;
  • 40 per cent have been told by an estate or letting agent that a property is accessible but, when they go to view it, they discover that it is not accessible for them;
  • 90 per cent think that property developers do not consult enough with disabled people when they plan and build new homes;
  • 40 per cent of young people are living in accommodation that does not suit their needs.

The report makes some recommendations for property, estate, and letting agents which includes ensuring property websites include searchable accessibility information, training staff on the needs of disabled people as potential letters or buyers, adding accessible properties to the Accessible Property Register, and also to share adverts for accessible properties with disability organisations.

One of the key points emerging from the report is the idea that the property market is generally not geared up to meet the needs of disabled people perhaps because of the continued failure to understand that many disabled people live and work independently.