Thursday 16 June 2011

Applying for DSA

I don't currently claim DSA (or DLA for that matter) and I never have, although I would have been eligible for each of the last 5 years at uni. In the first couple of years I wasn't aware of it (the disability service as my uni is useless, more on that later), then I didn't believe that my mental health problems were significant enough for me to need help (I did).

In terms of current issues, the disability service wouldn't see me until after I had a diagnosis, which meant a big delay, and then I find out that they "don't deal" with benefits. The union offers can "help me fill in the forms", but I don't really rate them, especially compared to some of the websites there are around.

I was diagnosed in January, and I haven't had a break since. I have other things to spend my time on rather than filling in miles of form, and I am very lucky in that my parents are able to support me for the time being. My plan is to apply for DSA over the summer, and to leave DLA until after my finals next year. I want to wait and see what the DLA situation is by then before putting myself through the hassle.

I'm waiting until the summer because due to some quirk of the NHS, I've had a fees bursary this year so needed to apply through them, but next year I thought I'd be back to my LEA, and it all seemed a bit confusing. Not it seems I'm actually having a fees bursary next year as well, in which case it's the NHS all along. Never simple...

I am lusting after these gloves - they're like wetsuit material,
and supposed to be much better for bendy hands than
horrible rigid splint supports with velcro-y nonsense all over

I have been told that applying for DSA is actually a relatively pleasant process. I wish I had applied before, but I am trying to focus on the future these days. I'm told that my diagnosis letter is all I'll really need, plus filling in the forms, and then I'll have an assessment.

Having said that, it all got off to a bit of a bad start. (I wish this was a joke but it's not) I emailled the NHS bursary folk saying "I wondered if I could get some information about applying for DSA", and got a reply saying "please return the attached form together with a psychologist's report". I spent half an hour wondering how intense the process must be if they need a psychologist to assess your mental wellbeing first. Until I figured out that the NHS seem to assume that any disabled medical student is dyslexic. I sent a rather snooty email back asking if a rheumatologist letter would do instead, as psychologists don't tend to deal with joint problems.

Even though there's only a year left, there are some things that would be really help.

Have any of you applied for DSA? Did you have a useful experience?


  1. Iain has DSA as you know, and it was quite okay. He had a psychologist's assessment, and then his report was forwarded to the DSA assessment chaps at Motherwell College. We saw a lovely lovely man called Andy Cobb, who was incredibly refreshing. I had been expecting a consultation along the lines of "can we have this?" "no you don't need it". Instead, his attitude seemed to be more along the lines of "what can we get for you, how many ways can we find to help you". He was really friendly and just chatted away with Iain for about an hour, and then spent some time demonstrating some computer programs and saying things like "well, you might find this useful so we'll throw it in" and "I'm not sure if you'll get this but we can ask anyway".

    I think it all comes down to the people.

  2. Good, that was very much the impression that I had. I shall need to have an actual think about what it is that would help... I kan haz nu bodi?