Self-directed Support

Self-directed Support is the way that social care and support should be organised and provided. It is about making sure that supported people have more control and choice over who provides their support and what that support is like. Greater control and choice means different things to different people. For one person this might mean having control over who supports them with personal care; for another this might mean spending their direct payment on a computer to help them find a job.

When a person is assessed by their local authority (Council) as eligible for social care support under the Social Work Scotland Act (1968) they must be offered a choice in how much control they want to have over their budget. Sometimes people call this ‘the four Options’ which are explained below.

  • Option 1. “I get the money to spend on the support I choose.”
  • The local authority pays the money directly to the person receiving support (or a third party) and they arrange their own support. This might involve employing staff or buying support from one or more provider organisations to meet the person’s outcomes.
  • Option 2. “I tell a third party how to spend the money for the support I choose.” The supported person is in charge of which providers they use, and how those providers work. Someone else manages the money for the supported person to pay for this (like the local authority or another third party).
  • Option 3. “I let the council decide how to spend the money.” The local authority selects and arranges the support for the person based on their needs and outcomes. 2
  • Option 4. “I choose a mix of options 1, 2 and 3.” The supported person can choose to mix the above options to suit them.

The purpose of Self-directed Support

Self-directed Support focusses on the difference made to people’s lives, often known as outcomes. The supported person is involved in identifying and achieving their own outcomes. This helps to align their care and support with the things that are important to them and represents a shift away from the traditional time and task service model and towards happier, healthier lives.

Outcomes are specific to each individual but examples include:

  • Improved confidence
  • Being as well as possible
  • Having friendships and relationships
  • Social contact
  • Living independently

The provider role

Providers have a key role in helping the people they support to work out how they will meet their outcomes and providing the direct support needed to do so. Providers also have a role in feeding into local authority assessments and reviews as they often have good knowledge of the person from working with them day to day.

Providers are also well placed to contribute learning and data about what works for individuals to support local authorities to improve social care commissioning and procurement (planning and purchasing.)