Self Directed Support (SDS)

How could SDS help me or someone I support?

SDS can be a way to enable you to direct your own care and/or support. Or the care and/support of someone you support either as a family member or friend or as a professional. SDS may offer flexibility for arranging or changing a package of care to meet individual needs.

How can I access SDS?

We invite you to contact Birchwood Highland Head Office team on (01463) 236 507 or who can direct your enquiry, or to directly contact the Community Services Support Team for your area, or the team at Birchwood Highland Recovery Centre for further information on the contact details below. The approproate Manager can arrange to meet with you to discuss your particular support needs in your particular situation in confidence, to enable you to make an informed decision about the services that Birchwood Highland may be able to offer.

You may find it helpful to speak with you GP (family doctor), or relevant health or social care professional to discuss what help may be available to assist you or a person you are caring for. It may be appropriate to request an assessment of needs, which everyone is entitled to. You can contact your local social work department and request an assessment. Social Work has a statutory duty to assess your needs within a 'reasonable time', which in practical terms means that you should not wait for an assessment for longer than 6 months.

What is SDS?

Self-directed Support, or SDS, is a new system of delivering social care services is based on legislation that came into force on April 1st 2014, the Social Care (Self-Directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013. We are presently in the transition stage, moving from the old system into the new one, i.e. SDS. This means that some people still access social care services using the old system, but they also can choose to access support through SDS. 

 SDS offers people much more say about support they want to receive and how it would be delivered. During the assessment the social worker should discuss your support needs and agree a care plan with you. We expect that you would be offered the opportunity to choose from the 4 SDS options:



Choosing direct payments means that you will receive a budget based on your assessment and you will be responsible for arranging your support yourself. The amount of money you will receive will depend on the level of support you require and your financial circumstances. The services you will purchase will need to fall within the agreed support plan. However you can request services such as cleaning, support doing shopping, gym membership or anything else that is important for you to maintain your independence and wellbeing. The social worker cannot refuse to include in the support plan a service you wish to receive without providing a reasonable justification. 

In order to manage your direct payments, you will need to open a separate bank account where the money will be paid in and you will also need to account for any expenditure paid for from the allocated budget. Alternatively, you can hire an accountant, who will do this work for you. Under this option you can also employ your personal assistant, including a relative, and the social worker would explain to you your responsibilities as an employer if you chose to do this. 



 If you chose option 2, it means that the budget allocated to you following the assessment will be managed on your behalf by an organisation you choose. You still maintain the choice and flexibility provided by Option 1, however, you won’t need to have a separate bank account or do accounts, as this will be done by the service you choose. They will pay for the services included in your care plan. Some organisations may charge you for managing your budget but they will need to agree this with you in advance. The only difference between option 1 and 2 is that under option 2 you won’t be able to employ a personal assistance – this can only be done under option 1.



In practice this means the support will be arranged for you in the more traditional way. However, you have the right to have a say about your needs and preferences, and these should be taken into account and included in your care plan where possible. The support provided should be as flexible as possible ensuring that you maintain choice and control in the services you receive.







Under this option you can choose to have different services provided under any of the 3 options discussed above. Option 4 provides the most flexibility and control over the support you need. 






How can Birchwood Highland Help?

Birchwood Highland provides services to a number of people accessing help through SDS using the different options. Many people choose to use the "Individual Service Fund" (ISF) as an option giving people we support and those close to them a lot of flexibility with a peace of mind as we will deal with all the invoicing and accounts.  

We provide services to individuals at all stages in their life, including young people of sixteen years of age and over. Many young people, and those who support them choose to access SDS as they plan and make the transition from school and to adult services. Our services include all types of social support, such as housing support and care at home, including personal care where required. There is no older age limit on the people we can provide support to. We support people with a number of mental health needs including people living with autism and dementia. Our packages of care are holistic and aim to support people towards living as independently as possible, being included in their community and being enabled to realise their potential. We support people in staying physically and mentally well, taking care of their home environment, and in taking up opportunities. 

If you would like to receive more information about our services and how to access these through SDS, please get in touch.

Further Information

For more detailed information about Self Directed Support and what it could mean for you – or the person you care for – please visit the Self Directed Support website here

The Self Directed Support website allows you to download copies of the Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013, on which SDS is based, and access information for people who are thinking of directing their own support. The website also contains information for carers and professionals.

Birchwood Highland has produced an information leaflet on Self-Directed Support, which you can download here (PDF file), and you can also download a flyer here summarising the 4 options. There is also an information pack you can download. Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) or an advocacy service may also be able to help you with any particular queries you have for your situation, and in particular can offer independent advice and support for you.

Birchwood Highland is able and would be happy to provide services to anyone with Self-Directed Support under any of the funding options. To discuss this further, please contact the Team Manager in your area, whose contact details can be found here.

Download our SDS flashcards for a simple explanation of how the SDS process works. 

Detailed information about SDS can be accessed on the Scottish Government website here

The Statutory Guidelines about SDS published by the Scottish Government can be accessed here