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SDS National Voice 2023: Harnessing Momentum

February 14, 2023
Date: March 22, 2023
Time: 9:30 am - 4:00 pm
Location: Online via Zoom Events
Open to all

A purple square wit the text SDS National Voice 2023 Harnessing Momentum, #sdsnv23, SDSS logo and multi coloured arrows

SDS National Voice is Scotland’s national conference dedicated to Self-Directed Support.

This year’s theme is Harnessing Momentum, reflecting the work taking place across the sector to deliver genuine choice and control for people accessing social care support by improving the delivery of SDS.

At a crucial time for social care planning in Scotland, the focus of the conference will be reflecting on developments in SDS implementation over the past year, and looking ahead to priorities for improvement over the coming years.

The conference is open to everyone with an interest in Self-Directed Support, including people who use social care support, carers, and professionals at all levels from across the sector.

A range of ticket options are available, with free places for supported people and unpaid carers.

The conference programme


Event opens – you are welcome to join the virtual lobby to network with other delegates, explore the conference programme and visit virtual exhibition stands.


Welcome – hosts Donald Macleod and Becs Barker, CEO and Chair of Self Directed Support Scotland, welcome you to the conference.


Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care, Kevin Stewart MSP, opens the conference with a keynote address.


COSLA Health and Social Care Spokesperson, Councillor Paul Kelly, addresses the conference.


Self Directed Support Scotland CEO Donald Macleod reflects on developments in SDS over the past year and looks ahead to plans for the year ahead, in the context of the SDS Improvement Plan and developments around the National Care Service.

11.05 am



Donna Murray, Laura Finnan-Cowan and Jane Kellock from Social Work Scotland’s SDS Team share their understanding of SDS improvement within the current context, through working with the National SDS Collaboration and their own Community of Practice. They’ll share how the Community of Practice have identified priorities for improvement and how this, and work to review the SDS Standards, will improve the implementation of SDS to make a real difference in the lives of supported people and carers.


Personal reflections on SDS – Sarah Anderson, who directs her own support with SDS, and is a social work student and broker, will join us to share her experience of accessing SDS – the challenges, what worked – and reflect on the improvements planned in the coming years.


Q&A Panel session

We’ll be joined by a panel of expert guests to discuss issues covered in the morning’s presentations and major developments in SDS and social care.

We’ll be joined by:

  • Simon Cuthbert-Kerr, Deputy Director for Improving Standards and Quality, Directorate for Social Care and National Care Service Development, Scottish Government
  • Rachel Cackett, CEO, Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland (CCPS)
  • Claire Cairns, Director, Coalition of Carers in Scotland (COCIS)
  • Jane Kellock, Project Management Consultant, Social Work Scotland
  • Anne-Marie Monaghan, Independent Consultant and PA Employer

You can contribute questions in advance by emailing


Lunch break


Indepen-dance, an award winning inclusive dance company for disabled and non-disabled people to enjoy, express, and fulfil their potential through dance, introduce a short film showcasing their work.


Workshops – round one

In the afternoon, delegates will have the chance to attend two facilitated workshops on a range of topics related to SDS.

Workshops are repeated during the second session at 2.45pm so you can attend two workshops on different topics – you can find more details of the options below.

Please note capacity at workshops is limited so spaces will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.




Workshops – round two

Workshops are repeated so you can attend your second choice.


Round up


Close of event



  • What does “meaningful engagement” look like?

This workshop, co-facilitated by Inclusion Scotland and the Scottish Government’s Office of the Chief Designer, looks to explore with participants what meaningful engagement looks like for people with lived experience of social care. What are the factors that enable engagement and involvement to work effectively for everyone, and what gets in the way?

  • Autistic people have the right to SDS too!

Autistic people have the right to quality SDS, just like anybody else. Yet in practice there is evidence that they face significant barriers in doing this. This workshop, facilitated by Lynsey Stewart, will explore some of those barriers and, more importantly, will encourage participants to come up with a range of practical ways to break those barriers down.

  • Are we getting the best out of Option 3?

Option 3 is still the most common way that people receive Self Directed Support. In this workshop, In-Control Scotland will explore what factors lead to that, its reputation as a “safe” option, and whether practice is keeping pace with what is possible, whether you are receiving support, providing it or organising it. To do this we will look at why people choose other options and ask how much of that do you really have to compromise if you organise Option 3 in the right way?

  • Supporting them to support you: Relief PAs and PA support

Last year, Aberdeenshire’s Cornerstone SDS set up a dedicated PA Relief Pool, to enabled employers to source relief cover, while also giving PAs who are interested in taking on relief work an opportunity to advertise their services and temporary availability. Through their work with the PA programme Board, Cornerstone SDS also have a PA advisor in post to support PAs. They will be discussing how this works, the benefit to employers and PAs and how the role has evolved. Laura Hendry, SDS Lead at Cornerstone SDS, discusses how the PA Relief Pool came to be, how it works, and what their clients think.

  • Ethical commissioning – what is it and where does it connect with SDS?

Join Louise Bowen (Iriss) and David Kerr (Scottish Government) for a conversation about ethical commissioning and SDS.  What is ethical commissioning, and what difference could it make towards enabling change to social care and support in Scotland post-Feeley? This workshop is an opportunity to get the background on ethical commissioning and procurement (how social care and support is planned and purchased) and a space to discuss putting principles into practice in relation to Self Directed Support.

  • Supporting people with neurological conditions to access SDS

About 1 in 6 people in Scotland live with a neurological condition.  Conditions of the brain and spine can cause severe impairments, and those with complex conditions can need a lot of support to undertake everyday tasks and support their independence.  Many individuals and families are missing out on the opportunity to have a say in how they receive the support they need and from whom. Join the Neurological Alliance of Scotland in a workshop to learn more about the challenges facing people living with a neurological condition and how to support them better in accessing SDS.

  • The Community Brokerage model in Scotland

The workshop will explain the model of Community Brokerage in Scotland which the Approved Brokers Community of Practice (ABCofP) supports, and why we feel we need to be part of the landscape. Many of our members are informal carers, individuals with their own support needs and people who themselves are living a more fulfilling life having upskilled themselves to contribute to their own communities and make a difference. We will share with you how the Community of Practice is developing, and how we are helping micro enterprises and communities to become more resilient across Scotland.

  • SDS Practitioner Toolkit

Join the Social Work Scotland SDS Team to find out more about the resources available in the SDS Library. Learn about a Toolkit which has been put together by SDS stakeholders and people with lived experience to help Social Workers connect with good practice resources quickly. Help us to identify other resources that should be in the library and discuss ways we can support Social Workers to practice as trained and to implement Self-directed Support.

  • Personal Assistant and PA Employer training framework

(Please note this workshop is only available in the second session)

Join Anne-Marie Monaghan in this workshop for a quick recap on the journey of the PA Programme Board sub-group on training, and the plan for driving this agenda forward. The focus of the session will be the principles that will underpin training for PAs and their PA employers, ensuring the protection of this unique relationship and avoiding any undermining of the agency of the PA employer. The main focus of the session will be discussion – to hear from participants about the work they are already doing, understand what makes best practice and to hear their views about the training requirements for PAs and their employers.

  • Reviewing the SDS Standards

The Framework of SDS Standards, published March 2021, defined what good SDS looks like and their development has been one of many SDS co-production success stories so far. Two years on, it is time to reflect on the impact they’ve made, how inclusive the standards are and how we maximise their potential. Join Social Work Scotland to share your views and experiences of the SDS Standards and discuss where we go next in defining what good SDS looks like.

  • Influencing leadership, systems and culture – working in partnership with your Local Authority

This workshop explores how the Scottish Borders SDS Forum has over time developed a meaningful and co-productive partnership with Scottish Borders Council, which has meant that people with lived experience of SDS have been – and continue to be – successful in influencing SDS policy and practice in leadership , systems and culture.



About the event

The conference will be held on Zoom Events to make it easier for a wide range of people to attend. If you are unable to access Zoom via your work device we’d encourage you to register using your personal details so you will be able to access the conference on a personal device.

The event platform is fully interactive and provides the opportunity to network with other delegates in a virtual lobby, there’ll also be the chance to learn more about SDS-related projects in virtual exhibition spaces.

If you have work you’d like to share in a virtual exhibition space please contact for more information.



We aim to make the event accessible for all those who wish to attend. Please let us know when you place your order if you have any accessibility needs.

BSL interpretation – if you require BSL please let us know by 1 March 2023 to ensure we can book interpreters. Auto-generated captions will also be available on Zoom.

If you need support to register please contact us at or 0131 475 2623.


Get in touch

If you have any questions about the conference please get in touch: