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Self-directed support (SDS)

Self-directed support – support, care, trust, protect. Image shows elderly adults chatting on a bench, a person receiving occupational therapy/rehabilitation with an OT, person in wheelchair, home carer with elderly client, elderly person and young child

Self-Directed Support (SDS), sometimes known as personalisation, gives you and your family more choice and control over your care. It also means that we will work with you to create a flexible and individual care package to meet your needs.

SDS, alongside many other policies, is intended to support, promote and protect people’s human rights and through access to independent living support people’s participation in Scotland’s social, political and civic life. SDS also has the potential to promote equality of opportunity by removing the barriers which society places in the way of supported people and unpaid carers in all of their diversity. It aims to ensure that care and support is delivered in a way that supports choice and control over one‘s own life.

The Statutory Guidance has been updated (October 2022), making it clearer that Self-directed Support (SDS) is for everyone in Scotland who needs social care services or support. This includes children, adults and unpaid carers.

The Guidance explains what authorities should do to make sure that people are able to get the support that is right for them. It is based on the Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013 (‘the 2013 Act’). This is the law that tells local authorities what they must do to give access to SDS in a way that supports people’s rights to choice, dignity and being able to take part in the life of their communities. This law tells authorities that they should:

  •  Treat supported people with dignity and respect at all times, including when they first assess someone for support;
  •  Offer the four SDS options and explain what each of them mean in a balanced and impartial way, and how they would work for the supported person’s unique circumstances;
  •  Make sure that supported people have a say in planning what their support looks like and that they have as much involvement as they want in decisions about their support;
  •  Make sure that supported people have enough information to understand what is available and to make the choices which are right for them. This should include information about where to find independent support to help them choose; and
  •  Make sure that supported people have opportunities to challenge and ask questions about any aspect of their support and are given enough time to understand and participate in decisions about their support, particularly when it is being stopped or changed.


The Act is clear in relation to individual’s participation in their assessment. This is more than ‘consultation’. Whilst assessment is currently a legal duty for local authorities, this duty involves enabling people to co-produce their assessment if they so wish. This also extends to NHS partners involved in the assessment or who are contributors to the assessment and plan.

The Support Person's Pathway

Mapping a supported person's pathway to SDS

SDS Pathway


This diagram aims to show, in a simple way, key stages in a person's pathway to accessing SDS. It covers the main steps from when you decide you need some support: first contact, eligibility and assessment, support planning, agreeing the plan receiving support and review.

The assessment of eligible needs and the identification of resources are all part of the same process, which starts with the good conversation and ends in a budgeted support plan and the offer of the four Self-directed Support options.

Having a good conversation should identify all of the things that matter to the supported person in their life and should result in the identification of their personal outcomes.

Trust-based relationships and good conversations between workers and people are at the heart of assessment, support planning and review practice and processes, recognising people’s strengths, assets, human rights, community and funded supports. Personal outcomes are agreed on the basis of what matters to the person.

Budgets should only be costed once the assessment has been undertaken, available assets and strengths have been identified and personal outcomes have been agreed.  All eligible outcomes should be considered for funding, as long as they are legal and cannot be met by other supports or funding streams.


Where the supported person is deemed to be eligible for support, the authority will determine the appropriate level of funding. Section 4 of the 2013 Act refers to a relevant amount and defines this as the “amount that the local authority considers is a reasonable estimate of the cost of securing the provision of support for the supported person.”

We adopt a Resource Allocation System where the authority gathers information about the person’s eligible needs and risks, desired outcomes, allocates points to those outcomes and on the back of this process, allocates a level of funding.

The current SDS Resource allocation system generates a personal budget in accordance with assessed need and is calibrated to take account of the cost of a typical complex care package. The approval process for all self-directed support assessments and budgets is governed by a framework that sets out the levels of authority delegated to key senior staff within Social Work Resources.

In addition, decisions about budgets may be made by professional judgement alone or on a case-by-case basis. Senior Management (Fieldwork Manager/ Locality Manager / Head of Service) have the discretion to authorise support packages that extend beyond the financial benchmarks set for adults and older people. This is in line with our Scheme of Delegation and the Financial Framework for Approval of Care Services.

The council and the relevant professionals acting on its behalf, will ensure that the nature and level of support meets the person's eligible needs.

Children and family services have a different approach to calculating the support funding level.

Your assessment

Your assessment will cover your strengths and abilities as well as your care and support needs. We will ask what you feel you are able to do as well as what you need help with. The assessment will cover areas of your life such as personal care, running your own home, your social life, learning activities and how safe you feel at home and in your community.

You can contact your local social work office to have an assessment carried out and you may want to note down any comments, including your strengths, areas you need support in and what you would like to do in advance of our meeting or wait until we meet to consider. 

Your support plan

Your plan will focus on 4 areas:

  • how you want your support to be designed
  • how you want it provided
  • who you want to provide it
  • what you want to achieve from your support

Your support plan will be agreed and we will discuss the financial contribution you may be asked to make towards your care. You will also have the option on how to direct your care. This will be in one of four ways:

Option 1 - You (and your carers) manage your support plan and receive a direct payment to do this

Option 2 - You (and your carers) choose your support and have these managed by a third party

Option 3 - We arrange and manage your support

Option 4 - A mix of the first 3 options

If you change your mind

If you change your mind you will be asked to review your funding options. You can ask for this at any time.

This is separate from a review of your support arrangements.