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Social Work Scotland Report: ‘Best Practice and Local Authority Progress in Self-Directed Support.’

Date posted: September 16, 2018

Social Work Scotland have recently released a report that aims to share good practice examples and promote learning between local authority areas and across different fields of practice. 15 of the 32 Scottish local authorities came forward to offer evidence and examples of best practice in SDS implementation as follows:

  • Angus
  • The City of Edinburgh
  • Dumfries and Galloway
  • East Ayrshire
  • East Dunbartonshire
  • East Lothian
  • East Renfrewshire
  • Falkirk
  • Fife
  • Highland
  • Midlothian
  • Perth and Kinross
  • South Ayrshire
  • Scottish Borders
  • South Lanarkshire

Based on its findings the report identifies 8 areas that are ‘key to the success of SDS’:

  1. Leadership: Buy in and permission from management across all Local Authority area services.
  2. Systems: Commissioning, procurement, contract and financing systems that allow access to all 4 SDS options in a streamlined way.
  3. Communities: Outreach and community capacity building that maximises community assets.
  4. Partnership: Provider flexibility and wholesale commitment to SDS, PA availability and skill.
  5. Support: Third sector enablement creating access for all to SDS.
  6. Practice: Practitioner knowledge, skill and values with management support.
  7. Recognition: Carer involvement, support and commitment to meeting the needs of carers.
  8. Taking control: Informed and confident users of SDS who are personalising and planning their own care and support.

Overall the report demonstrates the importance and value of shared learning and highlights some of the key issues faced in the implementation of SDS. You can access the full report here. 

Our take on ‘SDS Data Under Development.’

Date posted:

Many of you will be familiar with the SDS Data Under Development figures, the most up to date of which, covering 2016-17, were released last month. The recent figures show a marked increase in what is described as the ‘SDS Implementation Rate’, now up to 70% at a national level.

You may wonder what that means, and it is worth taking a closer look at the figures, particularly in your own local area, as the headline Implementation Rate varies quite significantly across local authorities, with a couple of authorities still unable to provide complete data. Fundamentally, these figures aim to establish what proportion of those who should have been given a choice under SDS, were actually given that choice:

‘The 2017 Social Care Survey asked Local Authorities to return information on all clients who made a choice regarding their services or support at any time during the 2016-17 financial year. The key criterion for inclusion is that the client was given a choice – an individual should only be included if they have undergone an assessment during which the available SDS options were explained.’

The research goes on to breakdown specific SDS choices around the SDS Options 1-4 and analyses this for different groups, for example by age, gender and ethnicity.

However, it does raise some questions around what we really mean by choice, and what genuine choice looks like. Over the same period of time that the SDS Implementation Rate has increased, we have seen ‘a continued decrease in the percentage of people who said that they had a say in how their help, care or support was provided, from 83 per cent in 2013/14 to 76 per cent in 2017/18’ in the Health and Care Experience Survey which seems somewhat counter-intuitive.

The Scottish Government has also recently published a new report called ‘Transforming Social Care: Scotland’s progress towards implementing self-directed support 2011 – 2018’, which outlines work done as part of the current SDS strategy and identifying the progress made.

At SDSS, we continue to believe that the best way to know how we are doing in terms of implementation is to find out about people’s experiences of SDS, by carrying out research at local level. We are delighted to have secured funding from the Scottish Government to take this forward. You can read more about our research here.

The Programme for Government 2018-19: What does this mean for SDSS?

Date posted:

Last week The Programme for Government 2018-19 ‘Delivering for Today, Investing for Tomorrow’ was released.

In it, the Scottish Government made the following commitment:

‘We will also gather views and consider evidence for a potential new national scheme to provide extra financial support to people with the highest social care needs, so that they can choose to live independently in their homes and in their local communities.’

This is potentially a very exciting development, and we know that SDSS members, and your members, will be really keen to be as involved as possible in this. We are already in touch with the team working on Adult Social Care Reform about how SDSS members can engage in this process so we will keep you updated on this. Meantime, please do get in touch with us to share your thoughts and views.

SDSS and The Alliance research ‘My Support, My Choice’

Date posted:

The ‘My Support My Choice’ research has its origins in a 2016 pilot study conducted by Self Directed Support Scotland (SDSS) which explored service users’ experiences of Self-directed Support in 3 local authority areas in Scotland. The literature review for ‘My Support My Choice’ indicates that little is known about how disabled people and their families feel about the various options available under Self-directed Support nor, the journey through which disabled people and their families undergo in order to access suitable support.

Between June 2018-March 2019, Self Directed Support Scotland and Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (The ALLIANCE) are running a project entitled ‘My Support My Choice’. This project will examine user experiences of Self-directed Support across 8 local authority areas in Scotland and the research questions are:

1. Are new and re-assessed social care users being given all of the relevant information about options available to them under SDS, and is this done in a way that is supportive and accessible?

2. Are people aware of and able to access advice and support from other agencies to help them to make an informed choice and to set up their preferred arrangements?

3. Are people able to access care and support arrangements that are flexible and tailored to meet their own personally-defined outcomes?

4. To what extent are people able to obtain non-conventional forms of social care?

Self-Directed Support and People Living with Dementia

Date posted:

Alzheimer Scotland are conducting a short survey to find out more about what is happening locally from organisations involved directly in supporting people with self-directed support, so that they can further support and guide people living with dementia and their families regarding Self-Directed Support.

This could be for example about providing information about organisations who can help them locally or discussing how they can work in partnership with those organisations.

Anecdotally, Alzheimer Scotland are aware of many people living with dementia who receive excellent support from organisations and people, other than the local authority and social work professionals.

However, they are also aware that many people living with dementia are not advised about other sources of support to help access and manage SDS and this can be a real barrier to exercising more choice and control and directing support.

Alzheimer Scotland are keen to find out more about the landscape of provision of independent support and advice for people living with dementia to access and manage SDS and if there is adequate provision of this support.

They hope to be able to use findings from this survey as evidence about SDS and people living with dementia, to be able to maximise opportunities for local networking and increase access to appropriate supports for people with dementia and their families.

They also hope to gather intelligence that may inform any dialogues which local people might want to have about fair access to SDS with local authorities.

Alzheimer Scotland would like to invite you, as a representative of an organisation or project that provides independent support and advice for SDS, to complete their survey and provide them with information about the extent to which you are currently able to offer support to people living with dementia.

They offer this opportunity to take part in their survey genuinely in the spirit of partnership working, to gain more knowledge and to more clearly map our current and potential local SDS allies, not to make any remark or judgement about the current capacity of any individual organisation or project.

The survey should only take you 15 minutes to complete.

If you are interested in being involved in this work, but would prefer to take part in a planned half hour phone interview rather than complete the survey; please do not hesitate to contact Laura Finnan Cowan by emailing

The closing date for the survey will be Monday 22nd October 2018.

Improving Social Care Services in the Highlands

Date posted: September 13, 2018

Improving Social Care Services in the Highlands

Highland Self Directed Support Stakeholder Group

We are arranging a series of Self Directed Support meetings taking place across the Highlands over the next 12 months. We see these meetings as an opportunity to focus on how SDS is developing locally and how we can work together to improve this. We welcome anyone with an interest in SDS taking part, especially people receiving SDS, carers and staff and volunteers for organisations supporting people locally.

We have arranged the meetings in 2 parts, so that people using SDS, carers and people working in the voluntary sector, can come together to share their experience of accessing and making use of SDS in a supportive environment. We then hope to be joined by NHS and Council colleagues to work on addressing any areas for improvement in the future.

We would really value your experience and ideas and hope that you will be able to make some of the meetings. We are also aware that people using SDS and their carers may need some support to attend meetings and we are very happy to look at this as well.

If you would like to come along, please sign up at one of our Eventbrite listings. We have created one for each meeting, which are:


Merkinch Community Centre Tuesday 2nd October 2018 – 10.30am-3pm

Fort William

Ben Nevis Hotel  Tuesday 27th November 2018 – 10.30am-3pm


The Weigh Inn  Wednesday 6th March 2019 – 10.30am-3pm


Dingwall Baptist Church Tues 4th June 2019 – 10.30am-3pm

Alternatively, you can contact Mark Han-Johnston directly who can book your place for you on:

Tel: (0131) 475 2623


New Resource: ‘Challenging Social Care Decisions in Scotland: A Legal Guide’

Date posted: August 30, 2018

As part of their 3 R’s project MECOPP have published a Legal Guide on challenging social care decisions.

The aim of this guide is to help explain when decisions made about social care can be challenged using the law; and how to go about doing it. The guide attempts to answer the simple questions: “is there a legal duty to provide social care; and is there a legal route for service users to enforce that duty?”

This guide is written for staff and/or volunteers who provide advice and information to supported people and/or their carers who use social care services and have an entitlement to self-directed support. This guide may also be of interest to independent advocacy workers.

This guide is written by Tim Haddow, Advocate. As the guide outlines Advocates are independent legal professionals specialising in dealing with complex, difficult and high-value disputes. Advocates can be involved in providing advice from the earliest stages of a case and are specially appointed by the courts to provide representation for people involved in legal disputes in hearings before the highest courts in Scotland and internationally.

Read and download the guide here.

Pocket-sized Guide to the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016

Date posted: August 10, 2018

Coalition of Carers: New Guide to Carers Act 2016

The Coalition of Carers have produced a 2 page guide to what people can expect from the new Carers (Scotland) Act 2016.

They outline the Carer Pathway to getting the support that Carers need, through the provision of information, to having a good conversation and to making sure Carers needs are being met. You can see a copy of this 2 page guide here.

The Carers Act also gives Carers specific new rights which includes:

  • An Adult Carer Support Plan for adult carers
  • A Young Carer Statement for young carers
  • Both of these can be provided without first requiring carers to be providing care on a substantial and regular basis
  • Taking a preventative approach to identify each carer’s personal outcomes and needs for support
  • A requirement to provide information and advice services to carers

Carers and carer representatives must also involved in:

  • Setting local Eligibility Criteria
  • The preparation of local Carer Strategies, Short Breaks Services Statements and planning of carer services.
  • Carers must also be involved in hospital discharge processes

Under the Act a ‘carer’ is an individual who provides or intends to provide care for another individual.

For example, where a person self-identifies as a carer they may request an Adult Carer Support Plan (ACSP). If they appear to meet the definition of carer, the responsible local authority must prepare an ACSP.

When carers are identified by practitioners, whether in the community or acute settings, they must be offered an ACSP. If they accept the offer the responsible local authority must prepare an ACSP.

The carer must be given a copy of the finalised ACSP.

In addition, any carer support provided for the carer will be provided under section 24 of the Act and cannot be charged for or means tested.

To find more detailed information on the Carers Act and what this means for carers in practice, see the publications below.

You can see a copy of the Carers Act Statutory Guidance here.

You can also see a copy of a Carers Charter here.

New Research on SDS Implementation published

Date posted:

Providers and Personalisation: New Research report into the Barriers and Enablers for Self-directed Support implementation.

Their Report covered 5 Local Authority areas and they interviewed 35 people with roles ranging across strategic, operational, commissioning and front-line positions, from a range of urban and rural areas.

Their conclusions of the Barriers to SDS Implementation include:

  • Internal barriers within the Local Authority – including the complexity in changing practise
  • Capacity and sustainability of providers to deliver support in current financial circumstances
  • Recruitment and retention of staff for providers
  • Lack of provision meaning some people in more remote areas only being able to access Option 1
  • Impact of cuts and an increasing need for support
  • Access to funding to meet assessed need becoming more difficult
  • Variable quality of leadership within Local Authorities
  • Lack of commitment to SDS amongst some Local Authority staff
  • The status and skills of some SDS champions being limited – and a lack of support for them
  • High turnover of personnel
  • Limited training on SDS in Local Authorities
  • Skills gaps when dealing with issues of risk and implementing personal outcomes
  • Finance staff inappropriately questioning SDS expenditure
  • Some Managers not fully engaging with SDS over fears of the misuse of SDS budgets
  • Workload and complexity of service provision required
  • View that Option 3 was for people less able to manage an SDS budget in some way
  • Limited development towards integrating an outcome focused assessment, and actual outcomes, beyond the framework of existing eligibility criteria
  • Lack of support for an Outcomes focused Assessment when it came to the allocation of financial resources
  • Variable ‘buy-in’ from Health to support SDS implementation
  • SDS viewed as an ‘organisational obligation’ in some areas, and a ‘wider philosophical shift’ in others

Some of the suggestions to address the issues highlighted include:

  1. Improve leadership in SDS by encouraging more ‘champions’, with a guaranteed position
  2. Undertake a training needs analysis regarding SDS, including leadership skills, within local authorities.
  3. Develop training that can meet accommodate different levels of knowledge across specialisms
  4. Encourage the development of smaller, more flexible providers in remote communities
  5. Develop more support services among businesses in local communities for those choosing Option 1
  6. Paying the Scottish Living Wage and beyond for adult care workers to resolve recruitment and retention issues
  7. Examining the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC’s) accreditation and training model to assess its suitability for purpose.

You can find a copy of the Research Report here.

National Minimum Wage and Sleepover: Legal Ruling

Date posted: August 9, 2018

Legal Issues – ‘Sleep-in’ shifts and the National Minimum Wage

You might have heard of the recent Court of Appeal Judgement on the outcome of paying care staff the National Minimum Wage (NMW) for sleep-ins. There is now a useful description of the Court Judgement and what this means for staff working sleepovers and the employers paying people. Navigator provides an employment and HR advice service, which you can find out more about here.

See Navigators outline of the Legal Ruling on the National Minimum Wage here.

The case was brought by MENCAP and you can see a copy of MENCAPs statement on the ruling here.

What does this mean for Scotland? The Scottish Government has given a commitment to support the payment of the National Minimum Wage for sleepovers in Scotland and has made financial provision for this to each Local Authority in Scotland. However, as there is now no requirement for an employer to pay the National Minimum Wage, there may be future uncertainty as to whether Local Authorities will continue to fund this in the future.