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National Guidance on Self-Directed Support



active citizens

People accessing support for social care, education, employment and other aspects of their lives should not be thought of as dependent and vulnerable. Instead they should have choice and control over the support that helps to increase their independence, and enables them to engage and participate in their communities as active citizens.

advance directives

A plan that people can make for the times when they may/will experience mental health difficulties. The plan may set out what they wish their personal assistants (and others involved in their care) to do to best support them or even to manage their affairs.

advance statement

Unlike an advance directive, this term has a specific legal meaning under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 and so is rarely used in a self-directed support context. It is a statement made by someone, when well, about the care and treatment that they would like to receive when severely unwell and subject to compulsory powers under the Act. It requires to be witnessed and if overruled this action must be notified to the Mental Welfare Commission and will be reviewed by them.

(see also 'independent advocacy' and 'self-advocacy').

Advocacy is when a person or a group of people speak up for themselves or others. It is about supporting and sometimes representing people's needs, opinions and choices. It is also about offering support for another person or a group of people, who are unable to represent their own interests, in a variety of situations. Advocacy can help people become more aware of their own rights. It can help people to exercise those rights and be involved in, and influence decisions that are being made about their future.

assessed needs
(see also 'assessment' and 'care plan').

These are agreed during the assessment process and the ways they are to be addressed are noted in the care plan. These are the needs a local authority identifies a person as having, and which they have a duty to meet with the provision of support and/or services. This may mean providing support so that a person can be supported to live independently and safely at home if that is their wish.


This is a partnership process by which the health and social care department of a local authority and/or health authority works with an individual to identify their support needs to meet their personal and social care requirements. The individual may also be supported by a family member, carer, representative from a local direct payments support organisation (if required), and/or an advocate, and relevant professionals.

(see also 'guardian').

A legal term for someone authorised under the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 to act on a person's behalf where they have lost the ability to make certain decisions in their life without this support. The attorney is authorised by the person to undertake certain financial or welfare matters in advance of this loss, perhaps as a result of reduced capacity due to dementia.

block contracts

Block contracts are where a service is bought for many individuals.

care plan

A document detailing how an individual's assessed care and support needs are to be met. This is drawn up following the assessment process by the local/health authority working in partnership with the individual.


An informal carer is a person of any age who provides, or intends to provide, care on a regular and substantial basis, as defined in section 12AA of the Social Work Scotland Act 1968 and section 24 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995. That is, carers of any age caring (or intending to care for) adults or children.

Changing Lives

Scotland's Changing Lives 67 agenda reinforces the need for direct payments as a tool to achieve independent living by means of self-directing their own support. This is part of new social work strategies that recognise that personalised and individualised support services should be arranged around the person.

circle of support

A group of people who meet at intervals to help an individual accomplish their personal goals in life. Its members are people who have a strong commitment to that individual.

close relative

Someone related to the direct payments recipient in one of the following ways: parent, parent-in-law, aunt, uncle, grandparent, son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, stepson or daughter, brother, sister or the spouse or partner of any of the foregoing.


The legal agreement to a choice or action freely made by an individual without coercion, as well as acceptance of the responsibilities associated with that choice or action. Legally, the individual must be 'mentally capable' of giving consent before it is valid.


To have autonomy and power over your own life and what happens to you, regardless of how much support is needed to put your choices into action.

direct payments

A term used interchangeably with self-directed support and appearing in legislation (see AnnexB). The definition is historical and focused on a system of delivery rather than the flexible independence outcomes that individuals can achieve when they choose and control their lives. Self-directed support is for people who have been assessed as needing help from health and social care services, and who would like to arrange for their own care and support instead of receiving them directly from the local authority. A person must be able to give their consent to be on self-directed support and be able to manage it even if they need help to do this on a day-to-day basis.


The loss or limitation of opportunities to take part in the normal life of the community on an equal level with others due to physical, attitudinal and social barriers that exist in society.

employer's indemnity

Protection or security against damage or loss. This will indemnify the employer in respect of any claims by an employee, relating to the contract/terms and conditions of employment. Indemnity insurance of the type offered by organisations such as SPAEN supports employers to deal with personnel issues and is optional. For example, it can provide the legal costs incurred in the case of defending employment tribunal proceedings, as well as any compensation awarded at employment tribunals in cases of unfair dismissal.

employer's liability insurance

Employer's liability insurance is mandatory. It is cover for bodily harm/disease sustained by employees in the course of employment. It does not cover personnel issues. Note that this differs from Public Liability Insurance (which is cover for any damages that a member of the public may be awarded as a result of injury or damage to them or their property caused by a business).

Free Personal and Nursing Care ( FPNC)

This is the support available without charge for everyone in Scotland aged 65 and over who needs it, whether at home, in hospital or in a care home.

(see 'attorney').

For an adult aged 16+, this is a legal term for someone authorised under the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 to act on a person's behalf where they are unable to make certain specified decisions in their life about financial or welfare matters. Guardians are appointed by Sheriffs.

For a child aged under 16, a guardian is someone appointed by a parent, or where necessary the sheriff, to take over parents' responsibilities and rights after a parent dies or when a parent is unable to care for the child 68. The guardian's role applies until the child is 18.


The loss or limitation of physical, mental or sensory function on a long-term or permanent basis.

independent advocacy
(see 'advocate/advocacy' and 'self-advocate').

Independent advocacy is carried out by individuals and organisations who are completely separate from those organisations providing services to the person. Independent advocates act only according to the wishes of the person being advocated for.

independent living

The Independent Living Movement has formed a philosophy, which emphasises disabled people's rights as citizens rather than recipients of care. The meaning of independence has been redefined in terms of being able to achieve personal goals, by exerting choice (over where to live, how to live and who provides assistance), and control (over who assists, how, when and what they do). The term of personal assistance was chosen to reflect these aspirations and counteract dominant understandings of care. Self-directed support is a crucial means for Independent Living.

Independent Living is to "…ensure that disabled people of all ages have the same freedom, choice, dignity and control as other citizens at home, at work and in the community. It does not mean living by yourself or fending for yourself. It means rights to practical assistance and support to participate in society and live an ordinary life." (Disability Rights Commission - Independent Living Bill, June 2006)

Independent Living Trust
(see 'user-controlled trust').

An Independent Living Trust or user-controlled trust is an obligation binding a trustee to deal with property or money in a particular way, for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries. The Trust is witnessed, and registered with the Inland Revenue. The trust ensures the individual remains the focal point of any decision making regarding their care.

individual budget ( IB)

If a person decides to try self-directed support, their care manager can arrange for the allocation of a budget which is sometimes called an individual budget ( IB) because it is for the person's sole use to arrange for their support needs. Their care manager brokers this budget and will make clear what they can spend money on. The individual will also need to show the council that the support they want to buy meets their assessed needs, and must have a separate bank account for their individual budget.

lead officer/ local authority self-directed support lead officer

Usually positioned within the social work department of a local authority, these people are responsible for the delivery of self-directed support. One of the new expectations of this guidance is that each local authority will fund a dedicated 'direct payments lead officer' whose role will be to:

  • increase uptake of self-directed support
  • develop local support organisations
  • develop training for the employers of personal assistants, and
  • develop training for people who are interested in becoming personal assistants.

local support organisations
(see 'local support services').

local support services

Local support services offer direct payments support, advice and training to service users, their family and carers, local authority staff, service providers and PAs. They are ideally independent support organisations by and for disabled people located within the voluntary sector. These organisations are underpinned by the belief that disabled people are best placed to offer support and advice to other disabled people, based on a shared experience and commonality of living life as a disabled person. This is recognised as peer support. In some local authorities this has not yet proved possible and an in-house support service is provided to help people with self directed care.

mixed package

Self-directed support plus an arranged social care service from the council.

parental responsibility

To safeguard and promote the child's health, development and welfare, provide direction and guidance and act as the child's legal representative as defined in the Children (Scotland) Act 1995.

peer support
(see 'local support services').

personal assistant ( PA)

A support worker employed by an individual using direct payments.

Pips Partnership in Practice (PiP) agreements

These are a recommendation from the Same as you? initiative to improve support and services for people with learning disabilities so that they can live more independent lives. They are local partnership agreements between local authorities, the local NHS and other partners describing how they plan to implement the Same as you? guidelines. They are written for every area of Scotland. http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Health/care/VAUnit/PIPAgreements


A person who receives direct payments (as used in this guidance).


A term used in this guidance in a mental health context. This is where a person is getting over a period of experiencing mental health difficulties, or learning to live with an enduring mental illness, so that they can have as meaningful and satisfying life as they are able, as defined by each person, in the presence or absence of symptoms. It is important to be clear that there is no right or wrong way to recover, and the result may or may not be a complete cure. It is about the person having control over and input into their own life instead of simply receiving medical or other treatment. Each individual's recovery, like his or her experience of mental health difficulties, is a unique and deeply personal process.


Short break which is to act as a positive experience for the person with support needs and the carer, where there is one. The term includes a wide range of different services of limited duration. The common factor is not what service is provided, but its purpose. Respite can be offered in a wide variety of settings, including breaks in residential homes, respite-only units ( e.g. specialist guest houses), breaks in the home of another individual or family who have been specially recruited, breaks at home through a support worker or sitting service, or holiday type breaks.

(see 'advocate / advocacy' and 'independent advocacy').

Where people are supported to be able to promote their needs and wishes for themselves.

self-directed support

(see 'direct payments').

service user

A person who uses a service (as used in this guidance).

Single Shared Assessment ( SSA)

This is where a person is assessed by one or more professionals for all their care, support and continuing health needs that they may have and which may entitle them to support from their local or health authority, but it is brought together in a single comprehensive document.

social model of disability

People with impairments are disabled by the fact that they are excluded from participation within the mainstream of society as a result of physical, environmental and attitudinal barriers which prevent them from gaining equal access to education, employment, information, housing, public transport, leisure opportunities, and so on.

It encourages the view that people accessing support for aspects of their lives are not to be perceived as dependent and vulnerable. Instead they should be offered choice and control over support that helps to increase their independence, and enables them to engage and participate in their communities as active citizens.

Using the social model, disability is no longer seen as an individual problem but it becomes a social issue. Disability emerges within a society which is organised to meet the needs of the majority of people who do not have significant impairments and which treats differently the needs of people who do.

spot purchasing

Spot purchasing is where an individualised service is bought for one individual.

support organisation
(see 'local support services').


A person who uses services (as used in this guidance).

user-controlled trust
(see 'Independent Living Trust').

A user-controlled trust or Independent Living Trust is an obligation binding a trustee to deal with property or money in a particular way, for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries. The Trust is witnessed, and registered with the Inland Revenue. The trust ensures the individual remains the focal point of any decision making regarding their care.


A technical term used by finance managers that means a regulated transfer or re-allocation of money from one account to another, especially with regard to public funds.