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Self Directed Support


Self Directed Support (SDS) is a flexible way of providing social care service that provides more choice over the way care and support needs are met and more control over how support is arranged and managed. It can give you the opportunity to arrange some or all of your (or your child's) support instead of only receiving services arranged by your local authority social work or housing department. It is for people who would like more flexibility, choice and control over their care so that they can live at home more independently.

If you choose to organise your own community care support package, you are in charge of the arrangements. This should allow you to organise your life the way you wish. You will get a sum of money to spend on the support you need instead of receiving council services. If you want, you can choose to organise some of your own support and also receive some council services. 

Most people who use social work services can get self-directed support (which can include direct payments.) The term self-directed support is used because it emphasises that you are in control.

If social work services agree you need support and your support plan is approved, they must offer you the choice of self-directed support. You can use the amount of funding allocated to you to purchase services deliverd by the council or / and other voluntary organistions and / or make arrangements to do or purchase something which will help you achieve the outcomes you have identified in your support plan, as long as you have the capacity to consent to self-directed support, even if you require help to do this.

How does SDS work?

  • Identifies social care outcomes for an individual.
  • Gives a financial value to those outcomes.
  • People can, with approval from the Council, choose how to spend their money to meet those outcomes.

SDS options include:

  • Taking a direct payment.
  • Having a the funding you have been allocated ( sometimes called an Individual Service Fund) managed by a third party or the Local Authority.
  • Arrange support from the local authority or from a commissioned provider.
  • A mix of the above, it's up to you!

Direct Payments

  • All Local Authorities must now offer Direct Payments to eligible people.
  • Eligible people are those who are assessed as needing community care services (which include housing support services) or children's services.
  • You must be a disable person aged 16 or over, a parent of a disabled child, a person over 65 or an attorney or guardian.
  • You have to be assessed as being willing and able to manage Direct Payment with as much support as needed.
  • Direct payments can be used to:
    • Buy Services from organisations such as Firsthand
    • Buy services provided by the Local Authority
    • Purchase equipment
    • Purchase short breaks
    • Employ Personal Assistant(s)
    • Combinations of the above
  • Direct Payments allow an individual to control their own support.
  • The Direct Payment is paid into a bank account which is for the use of the recipient; the account should only be used for the Direct Payment and possibly Independent Living Fund payments.
  • Direct Payment recipients should not be at an advantage, or a disadvantage to those in receipt of Local Authority services.

Firsthand Lothian can provide a package of flexible support with you to meet the needs of your child and your family. Our set up charge for this service is £55, which covers the cost of an initial home based meeting with the Family Support Co-ordinator and introduction sessions with the worker(s) who will be matched with your family and child.


Please phone the office and discuss your situation with the Family Support Co-ordinator in the first instance to ensure that we are the most appropriate organsiation to meet your child's needs and to establish if we have staff available to deliver the service on the day / time you require - before progressing to application.

Please note we cannot begin to deliver respite unitl all SDS paperwork and the purchase order has been received.

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