Self directed support

Since 2014 local authorities in Scotland have had a legal duty to offer those eligible for social care four options about how their care and support can be delivered. As well as offering these options, local authorities must also be able to offer support to help people make informed choices about how this happens.

What does Self-Directed Support aim to achieve?

The aim of Self-Directed Support is to help people live better lives by making sure that:

  • Disabled people have the same freedom and choices as others at home, at work or in the community
  • People get the kind of support they want, where and when they want it
  • People get support at the right time, before a crisis or emergency happens

Who can access Self-Directed Support?

Self-Directed Support is available to people receiving long-term support following a formal social care assessment. It is intended for people with longer term, relatively stable and predictable needs for support. These could include needs associated with:

  • frailty
  • cognitive impairment such as dementia
  • learning disability
  • some long-term conditions
  • physical disability
  • a person who has needs that may be episodic but there is some degree of predictability e.g. mental health problems
  • a child with disabilities requiring longer term support

The four options for Self-Directed Support

Option 1: Direct payment

The local authority decides how much can be spent on support. It then makes the payment directly to the supported person who is responsible for arranging and paying directly for the care or support. The individual can buy support from a care organisation or employ someone to provide the care.

Direct payments were introduced to provide more independence, flexibility and choice for those who use services.

Option 2: Support chosen by the individual, arranged by the local authority

The local authority decides how much can be spent. The individual chooses the support they would like and the local authority arranges it and pays for it.

Option 3: Support chosen and arranged by the local authority              

The local authority decides how much can be spent on support. The individual then asks the local authority to choose, arrange and pay for the support. 

Option 4: A mixture of options 1, 2 or 3 for each type of support

The local authority decides how much can be spent on support. The individual chooses which types of support they want to pay for and organise directly and which they want the local authority to do.

Useful Links for more information on SDS:

For more information and guidance on how to proceed with Self Directed Support, please speak to your Local Authorities' Social Work Department. Click Here to visit your local authority's health and social work page.

Scottish Government Local Authority Finder

Self Directed Support Scotland


Care Information Scotland

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