Frequently Asked Questions

What is Self-Directed Support?

Self-Directed Support (SDS) allows people to choose how their support is provided, and gives them as much control as they want of their individual budget.

Put simply, SDS is the support a person purchases or arranges to meet agreed health and social care outcomes.

SDS offers a number of options for getting support. The person’s budget can be:

  1. Taken as a Direct Payment (a cash payment).
  2. Allocated to a provider the individual chooses (sometimes called an Individual Service Fund, where the council or funder holds the budget, but the person is in charge of how it is spent)
  3. The council can arrange a service.
  4. Individuals can choose a mixture of all three for different types of support.

Who can access SDS?

Under the current law in Scotland people can access SDS when they are assessed as needing a community care service. There are a few exclusions.

I thought SDS was only for disabled adults. Is this true?

No – children, older people, or anyone in need of social support can access SDS.

How can it benefit me?

SDS is not for everyone and many are completely satisfied with services that are arranged by their local authority. However, there are people who benefit from having choice and control over the support they receive. Some people prefer to have staff visit them at times of their choosing or to have the consistency of care that can come from employing your own Personal Assistants. Also, SDS gives the flexibility of using your budget to purchase services that meet your needs more creatively and individually than the services provided by the local authority.

Can Guardians or Attorneys request and receive SDS?

Yes - these persons can consent on behalf of someone. The council would have to conclude in its assessment that the person, after every attempt to support them, is unable to make a decision to receive SDS.

How am I assessed for SDS? What is the process?

As part of the assessment or review of your support needs you will be asked to think about the outcomes that are important to you. This might be through completing a supported self-assessment or self-evaluation questionnaire.

You will have a discussion about whether you can manage SDS and what kinds of support you need to be able to do this. You must have arrangements in place to manage the necessary paperwork, either alone or with help.

Help is available from your local support service, Cornerstone SDS. You will also need to satisfy the council that the support which you intend to buy will meet your agreed outcomes.

For disabled children, the council must be satisfied that the services bought will safeguard and promote the welfare of the child.

In addition, if you plan to employ staff, you will need to show that you will meet your legal requirements as an employer.

I am happy with the support I have, do I have to take SDS?

No-one needs to take control of their budget if they don’t want to.

SDS allows everybody to choose the way their support is provided but no particular option should be imposed on anyone.

Can I get help to decide?

People using SDS can get support to help make their choices from a local support organisation such as Cornerstone SDS, which can help with a range of issues such as general employment practice, payroll or peer support.

Is SDS not just about cuts?

SDS is about giving people a better life. It is about supporting people to think how they could lead their lives and giving them the chance to control that.

SDS isn’t cheaper, but it can be more creative and make better use of the money available, so that someone gets more for their money.

What can I do if I think my budget is not enough?

If you think the money you are offered is not enough, you do not have to accept it. You can dispute the amount offered. You will need to discuss with your council what will happen while your complaint is being worked on. You can accept the individual budget while your complaint is being dealt with. If you do not want to do this while your complaint is being considered, you can choose to get arranged services instead.

What responsibilities will I have?

SDS offers you much more flexibility, but managing it is also a responsibility. An important part of SDS is that a person can take on as much or as little responsibility they want depending on the options they choose.

You can get the help and support you need to manage this responsibility. Your local support service is usually the first point of contact for this.

Can someone other than the assessed person receive and/or manage my budget?

Yes – parents of, or those with parental responsibility for, children under 16 (or in some circumstances under 18). Guardians/Attorneys of adults over 16 and certain persons included by Scottish Government guidance. This is all at council’s discretion.

Where can I go to buy the services I want?

You can make arrangements yourself and employ your own staff who will report directly to you, or you can buy services from an agency, a private service provider or voluntary organisation.

Some people have a contract with a service provider to provide any emergency cover they may need should any problems arise.

Can I buy short breaks (respite)?

Yes, respite is a short break which is to act as a positive experience for the person with support needs and the carer, where there is one. The term includes a wide range of different services of limited duration. The common factor is not what service is provided, but its purpose. Respite can be offered in a wide variety of settings, including breaks in residential homes, respite-only units (e.g. specialist guest houses), breaks in the home of another individual or family who have been specially recruited, breaks at home through a support worker or sitting service, or holiday breaks.

Can I use SDS for free personal care?

Yes, if you are aged 65 or over and wish to use SDS to buy personal care services at home you will not be asked to pay part of the cost of these services.