Q13: going out
What the question really means
This question is about how your condition makes it difficult for you to:
- plan and follow a route to a place you know (it doesn't matter how you get there)
- plan and follow a bus or train route to a place you don't know
- cope in places that you don't know
- if applicable, leave the house because of stress or anxiety
The DWP is interested in how you cope with both long and short journeys - think about getting to local places (like a local shop, friend's house or a place you don't know). They're not interested in your ability to walk - you can describe your walking difficulties in question 14.
This question is especially important if you have sight or hearing difficulties, learning disabilities, autism, stress, anxiety or any mental health condition.
Do you need help from another person to plan a route to somewhere you know well? Or do you need another person, guide dog or specialist aid to help you get there?
Base your answer on what you can manage most days. You should probably tick “yes” if:
- you need help but don't get it
- your stress, anxiety or other mental health condition make it difficult for you to go out
- you find it hard to cope with large crowds or loud noises
- you find it hard to cope with unexpected changes to a journey - for example, roadworks or diversions
- you only attempt a journey during quiet times of the day - for example, when the shops aren't busy or there's less traffic on the road
Do you need help from another person, guide dog or specialist aid to get to a location that is unfamiliar to you?
You should probably tick "yes" if:
- you need help but don't get it
- someone helps or encourages you to go out
- someone goes out with you
- your mental health condition makes using a bus or train difficult
- you can't plan a route to an unfamiliar place yourself
- you find it difficult to cope with unexpected changes to a journey - for example, bus diversions, train cancellations
Are you unable to go out because of severe anxiety or distress?
Don't be put off by the word 'severe' - people experience anxiety and distress in different ways.
Extra information: what to write
It’s important you tell the DWP more by explaining your situation in the box.
It’s your chance to give the DWP a true picture of how your condition affects your ability to plan or follow a route, or go outside. They'll use this to decide if you get PIP.
You can also use this space to explain what help you need but don't get.
Orientation aids and guide dogs
List any orientation aids that help you follow a route - for example, a compass, guide cane or map designed for people with sight loss. You can also list a guide dog as an "aid".
Never miss any aids off your list because you think they're obvious, and always:
- explain how they help you
- explain what would happen if you didn't use them
- make it clear if a health professional advised you to use them
- include any that would help you if you had them
- include any that your condition prevents you from using - for example, your arthritis means you can't hold a cane
Explain if you use an aid to reduce mental or physical symptoms like stress, confusion, fear or anxiety when you're outside. Make it clear if it only reduces that feeling and that you still experience something.
Someone helps, encourages or reassures you
Make it clear if you need help but don't get any.
If you do get help, say who helps you (for example, a relative or friend) and explain:
- why they help you
- how they help
- how often they help
Make it clear if you need them to:
- plan journeys
- explain things to you
- encourage you to leave the house
- reassure you so you feel safe or calm
- deal with other people for you because you find it difficult
Always explain if there is (or would be) a risk to your safety if you didn't get that help.
Time it takes
Think about whether it takes you at least twice as long to plan or follow a route as someone without your condition.
Try to explain how long it takes. It's ok to estimate but say if you are. If it's too hard to estimate explain why - for example, because your condition affects your ability to concentrate.
- include time for breaks if you need them
- explain if it takes you even longer on a bad day
- say if it takes longer the more often you have to plan or follow a route in a day
Good days and bad days
Explain how you cope on both good days and bad and how you manage over a longer period of time (like a week). This gives the DWP a better picture of how you cope most of the time.
Make it clear:
- if you have good days and bad days
- how often you have bad days
- if you have bad days more often than not
- if you're likely to be more confused, disorientated or forgetful on a bad day
- how your difficulties and symptoms differ on good days and bad - for example, it takes you longer to plan a route or it's harder for you to change buses or ask for help
It's ok to estimate your bad days but say if you are. If it's too difficult to estimate - explain why. For example, because your condition fluctuates.
Symptoms like distress, anxiety, fear or nervousness
Tell the DWP if stress or anxiety make it difficult for you to plan a journey, follow a route or leave the house.
Try to say how often you experience this and how long it lasts. It’s ok to estimate or say if it’s too difficult to predict.
Make it clear if these feelings mean you can't plan a journey, follow a route or leave the house - even with someone there to help. Try to explain how stress or anxiety:
- makes it difficult for you to speak or deal with people
- can increase the risk of you getting lost
- makes you feel - for example, you feel sick, faint, confused or disorientated
- affects your ability to do any of the other tasks listed in the PIP claim form
Theresa's anxiety make it very difficult for her to be outside - either on her own or with family or friends. It's even harder if it's somewhere she doesn't know. The anxiety makes it hard for her to breathe and she sweats and feels faint, which can make it even harder for her to cope. When this happened at her local shop in February her friend had to call an ambulance to take care of her.
Safety: accidents, risk of injury or getting lost
Tell the DWP if you've had (or are likely to have) an accident planning or following a route or if you've ever got lost. You should also mention if going outside your house makes you very distressed.
It's helpful to give an example and explain why and how it happened, including if it made it difficult for you to:
- see obstacles
- remember directions
- recognise things like buildings and bus stops
- make sense of what people said to you or signs and such that you had to read
- judge situations for yourself - so you're more likely to get into dangerous situations
- think logically - for example, working out if it's safe to cross a road
You should mention a risk even if it doesn’t happen regularly.
If you've ever got lost, explain how difficult it was for you to find your way home or get back to a safe place.
If you can drive
If you can drive you need to make it clear if:
- someone else plans your route
- you can go out alone in your car
- you can only drive to places you know
- your doctor has advised against you driving
- your medication affects your ability to drive