Overcoming stress and Anxiety when applying for disability funding.
Reducing the Stress and Anxiety of NDIS Appointments
After navigating the NDIS and having accessed the scheme since the trial phase I still experience a lot of anxiety when having to navigate the review meetings. Its the time of year I dread, due to the uncertainty of what we will be allocated for the next years plan.
Have you experienced any of these feelings when applying for NDIS?
Sorry to start off a bit negative if it is your first time applying to the NDIA I will get to the helpful stuff!
I want to keep things real and help people acknowledge their emotions as I believe controlling your emotions can make an event that feels really difficult much easier.
After working so hard to use our plan to access supports that really help the planning meeting still brought me stress and anxiety due to the uncertainty of not knowing if we could continue to access our supports. It just felt so difficult!
Last year when I had to go through this process I had a really good think about why I felt like this. The main reason was that I felt like the plan was determining the future for my child and their ability to achieve success.
While to some extent this was true, I took a step back and looked at the other factors in our world that could remain stable and have an important influence on my child’s success.
It is actually the day to day effort that we put in as parents that have brought the most success. However, the support of specialists services has given us the knowledge and understanding to achieve this.
We are in a very blessed position to have supportive family and friends who have all contributed in their unique way to our child’s development.
The Support of family and friends is priceless. Something that an NDIS plan can never pay for! Do what you can to strengthen these relationships. Even one or two supportive people in your world can go a long way to building success in the life of anyone.
The end of this posts has more practical steps that you can take to influence the situation.
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In starting to control my thinking about the situation I used some strategies from the Circle of Control. This is a strategy that focuses on the areas we can have an influence on and what areas are out of our influence.
So for example with the NDIS plan, I can control how the plan is used and the goals that we are aiming to achieve.
The things I have no control over are the Planners decision about the level of funding required to achieve those goals and the Insurance model that the NDIA is built on. (There is an appeal process if things really fall short of what is needed)
An incredible young woman whom I once had the privilege of caring for taught me not to focus on what can’t be done but on what you can do! She had a severe disability and was unable to speak. Just being with her and seeing her determination to achieve what was in her control was just completely inspirational.
I believe every human being has a purpose and can have a positive influence on our communities. Especially when they are supported to find and develop their unique element.
Below are some practical tips that you can use to make your review meeting a little less anxiety-provoking.
Exercise choice and control
For example, sometimes you get a choice about where the planning meeting is held. Usually, the choice is to have it in your own home or to meet at the Local Area Coordinators (LAC) office. Sometimes a phone meeting will be offered. In 2020 due to covid-19 this is likely to be an option.
Have the right mindset.
Choose to see the positive things about having this meeting such as the government are giving us some assistance (even if it does not end up being as much as we would like).
A growth mindset goes a long way to helping us manage feelings. This type of thinking helps you say things like we are not there yet but we are also not where we were.
Now I focus on getting the most out of each years plan and try to relax about it a bit more.
Try not to worry about the outcome but tell your self that you will get the most out of what you are allocated.
Worrying about what we will be allocated does not bring me any more funding!!
My attitude in meetings if not positive could have an impact on our plan. If I am not controlling my emotions in the meeting the person doing the interview can feel threatened even though this is not my intent but just a product of my worry.
Remember that you are having an appointment with an agency that will give you financial support to access services. So many people in the world never get these opportunities.
See this yearly review as a time to reflect on what has worked and what is not working. Think about what you would like to be able to achieve. Take strategic action with the plan you get given.
Attitude of Gratitude
Brain storm what makes you grateful for the NDIS.
I am grateful that I live in Australia and have access to disability supports.
Not having to pay for every support from my own money makes me very grateful.
Having access to equipment that helps to improve daily life and build skills makes me extremely grateful.
Think through your requests
Being prepared ahead of the meeting will help. You do not want to be thinking of goals on the spot during the meeting.
Mentally prepare yourself by writing down or in some way recording your thoughts (perhaps you like to Vlog) and reflections on the previous year. Write answers for the things you might get asked
Make a list of everything you want to discuss so that you don’t miss anything. Have you ever left an appointment and thought Oh I forgot to say that or ask this!!
Don’t over-schedule yourself
Don’t try to fit too many things in on the day of the appointment. Keep the appointment your focus and don’t let your mind run away with the what if’s.
This is an important meeting put in the time and effort so that you can achieve the best outcome.
Have your documents organised
Write out the goals and the goals that were achieved in the last plan. Think of examples to demonstrate how the NDIS funding helped achieve the goals.
Collect all the reports from your therapists and you may also like to write your own report but this is not compulsory.
Up loading all of your important documents to the portal is something you may choose to do.
I do this as I don’t like to rely on a third party submitting my documents to the planner. This way my goals are in the system exactly the way I wrote them and no one can say that they do not have a certain report!! This could be me just being a bit OCD with my information but it is another thing that makes me feel more in control of the process.
Things change very frequently with the NDIA so it is important to review the website for current information.
I will write another post on goal setting. Sign up to my email list so that you get notified when it comes out. You will find the signup form at the bottom of the post.
Take a drink
During this kind of meeting I will take a drink in my travel mug. I find that the action of just taking a sip of my drink helps me to pause for a moment and relax a bit to continue on with the meeting.
Some people find that tea can be quite relaxing.
Take a support person
You can take someone with you to the planning to give you support and they can also contribute to the discussion if you want them to. For my very first planning meeting I took my Mother in law as my husband was away for work. She was great and helped answer some of the interviewers questions.
The worst planning meeting I ever had I did on my own! My emotions were running high and it didn’t help that the interviewer was not on my side in terms of understanding what my child needed. She was telling me during the meeting that my funding would be cut and not to expect too much! All while she was training someone else, so it was two of them to one of me. I had to leave the room halfway through with an excuse to go to the toilet just to get a grip on how I was feeling. Yes, I did put in a complaint and made sure I did this in a polite manner.
Thankfully the Agency (NDIA) seem to have done a bit of learning about their participants experience since then and the last couple of meetings have been great and we have been well supported with funding.
Deep breathing before you go in
Keep you emotions in control so that you can express what you need to.
Here is a great video from A life Less Anxious that shows you how to do a breathing technique that make you feel less anxious.
Body positions before you go in
Did you know that our body position can have an influence on our emotions?
Watch this video from a TED talk by Amy Cuddy. She will show you how the positioning of your body can influence how you feel in a job interview. Usually, before my NDIS review I have felt as nervous as applying for a job so I think this info will be helpful to you when you next have to go through an NDIA meeting.
Walking or Running
Exercise has been shown to reduce stress and increase levels of serotonin.
A walk or run before your meeting may help with you feeling more relaxed about the situation and be able to thin clearly during the appointment.
Even spending some time in the garden or the park before your meeting can help you feel calm.
When you have to make change
Even the best laid plans may not always get the result you are after. It might mean that resilience will need to be exercised but you can do this! Change is not easy but you can take action on the things in your control.
It is really hard when you are in this position on a yearly basis but you can do it!
Learn as much as you can. Be prepared and make sure everything is documented and written down.
All the best with your next planning meeting.
I have put together the above tips as a checklist so that you can be prepared for your next planning meeting. You will also find a circle of control printable.
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