#MHAW | SDS Supporting Independent Living

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and highlighting the important role positive relationships play in our wellbeing is at the heart of the campaign. Kaylie Allen, Performance Adviser for Self-Directed Support at Inspiring Scotland writes about how a Government Act is helping to maintain family relationships and successful independent living for the most vulnerable. 

Good relationships are essential to maintaining good mental health; being able to trust people, to feel supported and cared for, and to be able to connect with a community are fundamental to our wellbeing.

When people require support to lead independent lives, their relationships – with their families, their carers and with the organisations which help them – are even more important.

That’s why quality relationships and making time and space for quality conversations is at the heart of significant work going on around Scotland to implement Self-Directed Support (SDS).

 Since coming into force in April 2014, the Social Care (Self-Directed Support) (Scotland) Act has placed a duty on all local authority social work departments to offer people who are eligible for social care a range of choices over how they receive their support.

On the surface SDS is about making changes to the way social care is organised – it is the term used to describe the options people who are eligible for social care have for how their care is organised.

They are able to organise and manage it themselves, work directly with providers to work out what services they want, or work with their local council who will organise it for them. The care and support they and their families receive is based on a joint assessment of their needs as well as a plan that looks at what they want to do – what personal outcomes they want to achieve.

At its heart, however, SDS is about relationships and quality conversations. The need for and benefits of personalised support packages is long recognised, but the recognition that this means investing time to build relationships and have quality conversations that listen to the aspirations, wants, interests and assets of people, families and carers may be less so.

SDS also provides a great opportunity to build into personal care plans opportunities to increase social connectedness – to recognise the importance of supporting people to participate and connect in their community, to socialise and also have those quality conversations and relationships. There is a real opportunity here to evidence how this support directly contributes to their, and their family’s, health and well-being.

This film is a great example of how SDS can reduce social isolation | credit Self Directed Support Forum East Renfrewshire

Many of the groups funded through Scottish Government’s SDS Support in the Right Direction and Innovation Fund are supporting people through the SDS process, and are connecting people with their communities.

The funded charities are building on ways they have always worked and using the process of SDS to get people talking about what they want to do and the support they need to do it, then planning how this is done.

Improving social connections or reducing the isolation people feel is a common theme with many people seeking support and these third sector groups are well placed to look at creative ways of doing this and connecting people with their communities.

This work is increasingly important as the restrictions on care budgets mean many people seeking support are ineligible for paid for social care.

Using the SDS principles, however, these independent support organisations are helping people to access existing community groups, or even developing their own, thereby reducing social isolation, and helping people to meet personal outcomes.

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