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Self Directed Support

What is Self Directed Support?

Self Directed Support (SDS) is about putting people in control of the support they need to live the life they choose. It is how health and social care support in Scotland has been delivered since April 2014. 

SDS is underpinned by legislation which gives you and the person you care for the right to choose your own care and support. This legislation is called Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013.


Local authorities must offer one of the following options to those in need of care and support:

OPTION 1: the local authority makes a direct payment to the supported person for them to arrange and purchase their own support

OPTION 2: the supported person chooses their support and the local authority makes arrangements for the provision of that support

OPTION 3: the local authority selects and arranges support

OPTION 4: a mix of the above is used to meet the needs of the person.

SDS for carers

If you are a carer and meet the local eligibility criteria for support, then your local authority have a duty to support you and offer you a choice of the 4 options of SDS. To find out more, you can download our factsheet about What to expect when accessing SDS as a carer.

SDS Covid-19 Guidance (updated Feb 2022)

During the pandemic, the Scottish Government and COSLA published some additional guidance to ensure that supported people and Unpaid Carers were able to use their SDS budgets in a more flexible way. This guidance was updated in February 2022 and can be downloaded from here.

Social Work Scotland have also produced a brief Frequently Asked Question for supported people and carers to accompany the Scottish Government and COSLA SDS Covid 19 Guidance.

Carers’ experience of SDS during the pandemic

In June 2020, we carried out a short online survey to find out the extent to which the SDS Covid-19 guidance was being adopted and implemented across the different local authorities across Scotland, and to hear about the experiences of unpaid carers. 60 percent of carers were unaware that they could use SDS in a more flexible way during the pandemic.  You can download and read the full report here.

SDS during the pandemic: Experiences of unpaid carers in 2021

In August 2021, we undertook a short survey with carers and supported people to find out whether people were being able to use their SDS budgets in a more flexible way during the pandemic. Only 1 in 3 of those who responded to our survey had been able to use their care budgets in a more flexible way. You can download and read the report in full here.