Self-Directed Support (SDS)

How could SDS (Self-directed support) help me or someone I support?

Self-directed support (SDS) can be a way for people with support needs to access funds to either partly or fully pay for support and/or care services.  Self-directed support can give people a greater say in how their care and support is arranged. 
Learning more about SDS may help you make informed choices about managing your support, or the support of someone you care for. and enable you to direct your own care and/or support. Some people find that SDS offers them flexibility for arranging or changing a package of care or support to meet individual needs. Everyone is entitled to have an assessment for SDS and you can request this by speaking with your General Practitioner (GP) or another professional involved in your health or social care. 

How can I access SDS?

If you are interested in finding out what support and/or care Birchwood Highland can offer you we invite you to contact us to discuss your requirements in confidence.  Please contact Birchwood Highland Head Office team on (01463) 236 507 or who can direct your enquiry. Or you can directly contact the Community Services Support Team for your area, or the team at Birchwood Highland Recovery Centre for further information, and their contact details are below.

The appropriate Manager can arrange to meet with you to discuss your support needs in confidence, to enable you to make an informed decision.  

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 more generally, so you can consider your options.

It may be appropriate for you to request an assessment of needs, which everyone is entitled to. You can speak with your GP, or contact your local Social Work Department and request an assessment. The Social Work Department has a statutory duty to assess your needs within a 'reasonable time', which in practical terms means that you should not expect to wait for an assessment for longer than 6 months.

What is SDS?

Self-directed Support, or SDS, is a system of delivering social care services based on legislation that came into force on April 1st 2014, the Social Care (Self-Directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013. Self-directed support  offers people much more say about managing their support.  Services in Scotland are still in a transition, moving from the traditional systems of care and support  into self-directed support. This means that some people still access social care services using the traditional system, but they also can choose to access support through SDS to make up their package of care.

During the assessment the social worker should discuss your support needs and agree a care plan with you, and also establish your financial circumstances. If it is assessed that you have support needs we expect that you would be offered the opportunity to choose from the four available SDS options below:


Choosing direct payments means that you will receive a budget for your care or support based on your assessment, and you would then 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 purchase would need to fall within the agreed support plan. However, you can request services such as cleaning, support for 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 would 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 would 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 would be managed on your behalf by an organisation  that 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 from your budget. Some organisations may charge you a fee 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 assistant– this can only be done under option 1.



In practice this option 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 a package of support.






How can Birchwood Highland Help?

Birchwood Highland provides services to a number of people accessing support and/or care through SDS using the different options. Many people choose to use option 2, 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 different stages in their life, from people of sixteen years of age onwards, with no upper age limit.

Young People and SDS

Many young people, and those who support them choose to access SDS as they plan and make the transition from school and from child and adolescent services to adult services. SDS offers flexibility as packages can change to accommodate changing needs and priorities at a time of life that is naturally full of change and development.

Packages of Care and/or Support

Our services include all types of social support, and we are registered by the Care Inspectorate to provide Housing Support and Care at Home services and packages can include personal care where required. 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 learning, development and employment opportunities. We work with people we support to develop a personal support plan that includes their personal goals. This is regularly reviewed to ensure that any changing needs are captured and included. Birchwood Highland works in line with requirements of the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC), and where appropriate the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), the Care Inspectorate and  National Care Standards

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). 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 in your situation, and, importantly, 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 us either at Head Office link or directly 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 link.

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.