The value of proper assessment and screening tools
By Sarah Pearson, Registered Occupational Psychologist and Registered Exercise Professional, Remploy
Psychometric assessment has long been a way of supporting diagnosis in psychology and test users must be trained and registered. However, due to the pressures within various over-stretched services to identify client difficulties promptly; to ensure support, treatment, care or rehabilitation plans could be informed and appropriate, shortened screening tools were developed. In some cases, the screening tools were shortened versions of the original tests but many are standalone assessments in their own right.
What is a screening test? These tests are akin to quizzes for informational purposes only and gather information. They may include social and biographical information, direct observations and data from a specific test. It will give a good indication or ‘risk’ but not a full diagnosis, and will provide enough information for recommendations to be accommodated.
Obviously, there is a vast array of screening tests and it is impossible to account for all of them and their validity in one document, so let’s take one test that we, in the Workplace Disability Services, have started using fairly recently to provide a Dyslexia Vocational Evaluation (DVE).
The DVE has always aimed to assist individuals and employers to ascertain any dyslexic traits that might be affecting the individual and their ability to carry out specific tasks, and in turn, inform on what adjustments might be appropriate. We regularly review and check our processes to ensure we are using the most valid and efficient way of providing a service.
On a recent review, we found the Dyslexia Adult Screening Test (DAST) to provide a much more valid, comprehensive and detailed view of the traits and ‘risk’ of an individual towards dyslexic tendencies. This screening, which also involves a semi-structured interview, allows our team to work with an individual and their employer and within a two hour timeframe to provide feedback on the types of adjustment that might be made to support the individual in their role. The detail enables us to distinguish between dyslexic traits and more general learning difficulties and match those to the individual experiences of clients. This can not only be an informative process but also a relieving one as clients can have some reinforcement of the reality of the difficulties they have been experiencing.
As with all screening assessments the individual/professional can then decide whether a full diagnostic assessment is required. However, for the purposes of putting adjustments in place in the workplace it is often isn’t necessary to complete a screening tool, a well-structured interview/discussion with one of our experienced Vocational Rehabilitation Consultants can evaluate the necessary information required to make appropriate and reasonable adjustments. We always consider the necessities and ethics around the use of screening tools; there must be a valid reason and clear objectives/benefits and it would not be used in isolation but as part of an integrated wider process. As professionals, we consider all this alongside the impact and stress that might be caused to the individual by any process and make great efforts to reduce any stress as far as is possible. Good and valid screening tools add information where additional information is needed, but only if it is needed to benefit the individual via a professional intervention.
I am a Registered Occupational Psychologist and Registered Exercise Professional. I have over 20 years’ experience in working with individuals and employers assisting with assessment, disability management, making adjustments and guiding life changes. I have worked with both public and private sector organisations and the military.
In my current role, we’re responsible for the delivery of holistic workplace adjustments programmes to a client base that includes the BBC, BT and GCHQ amongst others to protect and develop their greatest assets, whilst enabling thousands of talented individuals to reach their full potential.
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