Self-directed Support in Scotland

Welcome to the Scottish Government's Self-directed Support (SDS) website.

This is a one-stop-shop for information about Self-directed Support for people who use social care services and health and social care professionals.

I’ve worked in the Self-directed Support (SDS) policy team in Scottish Government for nearly two years now, progressing legislation through Parliament and helping develop and deliver the policy. 

My background is public service but not in a health environment. 

I wanted to see the “bigger picture”, to understand how our policy actually worked on a day to day basis and how it impacted on people’s lives. I felt that if I could see and hear how SDS worked in practice, by listening and speaking with professionals delivering social care services as well as the people and families who were accessing the support, it would give me a better understanding.

East Lothian and Midlothian local authorities kindly agreed to allow me to spend a day with each of them to speak with their staff and go out on community visits to get a feel for what their job entails and how implementation was progressing.

My initial findings were that staff I spoke with were really enthusiastic and bought into the principles of SDS i.e. Choice, Control, Involvement, Collaboration etc…

They seemed to like the fact that they have an opportunity to be more flexible and creative in times when budgets are under pressure. People were saying “I like SDS”.

SDS also brings with it “culture change” and we’ve all probably experienced at some point something in our own working lives which has taken us time to get used to, and this is what I heard during my visits. Even though people said they agreed with the principles of SDS, they also confirmed that this brought additional work pressures which through time will hopefully settle down as SDS is embedded and becomes “the norm”.

My time spent going out on community visits was both interesting and a tad emotional at times.

Hearing how one families life in particular had been dramatically improved whilst their son was going through transition from children to adult services and, the positive impact that flexibility, choice and control brought, in helping them secure non-traditional support services that would not only meet their son’s needs, but also the needs of the family was in itself inspirational and,  confirmed to me that when the statutory principles of Self-directed Support are considered, they can truly make a difference to people’s lives for the better.

My time spent with East & Midlothian local authorities was both exciting, interesting and definitely met my outcomes and will help inform the policy as it moves forward.

I’d also like to thank all concerned who welcomed me into their working environment on each of the days.


Heather Palmer
Scottish Government
Self-directed Support Policy Delivery Manager

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