What is Self-Directed Support?

The Scottish Government believes everyone should be in control of their life. Some people however, need support to lead an independent life. They may also need advocacy to be empowered to make important decisions about their life. 

SDS Emp Bryan

Social care is the phrase used to describe the types of support – both practical and personal – that people may need to live as independent a life as possible.

The kind of social care support people receive depends largely on the types of conditions they have – for example, physical disabilities, mental health problems, dementia or because they need protection from harm. Social care includes a range of services from equipment to help people remain mobile, to help in the home, to residential care.

In 2013 the Scottish Government introduced The Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act. The Act places a duty on Local Authority Social Work departments to offer people who are eligible for social care a range of choices over how they receive their support.

Individuals, their carers and their families should be enabled to make informed choices on what their support looks like and how it is delivered, making it possible to meet agreed personal outcomes. Having this choice and control is not only empowering but necessary if people are to be equal partners in making decisions that affect their lives. 

In practice, there is a range of SDS options for how people receive their support.

Option 1: Direct Payments – a cash payment

Option 2: Having funding allocated to a care provider of choice. This is sometimes called an individual service fund, where the council holds the budget but the person is in charge of how it is spent

Option 3: Having the council arrange a service

Option 4: Choice of a mix of these options for different types of support 

As a way of organising social care, the Scottish Government’s goal is that Self-Directed Support will contribute to more people being confident and independent and achieving their aspirations for a happier, healthier and more fulfilled life.

 Scottish Government Guides to SDS

  • The Scottish Government has a website dedicated to SDS. It is designed for people who need support, carers and social care providers: www.selfdirectedsupportscotland.org.uk
  • Self-Directed Support: My Support, My Choice – Your Guide to Social Care – Scottish Government Guide to Self-Directed Support in Scotland (in video form with signing) 
  • The legislation.gov website managed by the National Archives has a copy of the SDS Scotland Act.
  • Scottish Government has produced statutory guidance to accompany the Act – available here.
  • An Easy read guide to accompany the act was also produced by the Government (in conjunction with Enable) – available here.

 Other Scottish Government publications include: 

 Websites with SDS information: 

  • Social Services Knowledge Scotland (SSKS) is a website and digital library dedicated to social care. A dedicated SDS portal is aimed at health and social care practitioners www.ssks.org.uk
  • Self-Directed Support Scotland (SDSS) is a national membership organisation which actively promotes Independent Living www.sdsscotland.org.uk
  • The Coalition of Care Providers in Scotland (CCPS) has a range of resources available to support voluntary sector support providers to prepare for Self-directed Support and influence the development of local and national policy. www.ccpscotland.org
  • Support Me Support You – is a great resource for social care providers interested in self-directed support and has examples of different ways providers have tried to make self-directed support happen for the people they support  www.supportmesupportyou.org