What is self-directed support?

What is self-directed support? This is the question I asked myself when I came across this phrase on the halow project’s website.  The halow project directed me to in Control.

In Control, founded in 2003, is a social enterprise that was set up to transform the current social care system into a system of Self-Directed Support. It was set up as a project in order to find a new way of organising the social care system and has developed into an independent charity committed to promoting active citizenship, community development and the reform of the welfare state.

So in Control seem to have started this whole thing off and the ‘enterprise’ has gathered momentum to the point where it now works with the vast majority of the local authorities around the UK to deliver ‘Self-Directed Support’.

Lots, if not all of the local authority websites will therefore have information on this form of support. A simple Google search on the keywords of “self directed support surrey” (Surrey being our County Council) took me pretty much straight to the appropriate pages of the Surrey County Council website. From which I have taken the following explanation:

Self Directed Support is for adults who are entitled to receive social care.

You will have more choice and control over your life, because Self Directed Support allows you to make decisions about the support that you need. It asks you how you want to live, what you want to achieve in life and what support you need to do this.

If you are entitled, Self Directed Support gives you a personal budget. You choose what social care and support services this money is spent on. You can be as creative as you want, as long as the money is spent to meet your agreed, assessed needs.

It sound good, but of course its more complicated than that. There’s a fair few hoops to jump though. I don’t know about the other authorities but Surrey has a five-step process:

  • Step 1: Supported Self Assessment
  • Step 2: Budget allocation
  • Step 3: Support planning
  • Step 4: Arranging and paying for your support
  • Step 5: Review and ongoing support

It possible to complete this process by yourself, or you can get help from independent organisations such as the halow project or in Control. Unless I was very sure of how the system works I would definitly be seeking help.

Self-directed support, to me at least, sounded a lot like direct payments but I think there is a subtle distinction. Self Directed Support gives you a personal budget instead of a standard care package. You can then use parts of your personal budget, or your entire personal budget, in three ways:

  • Direct payments – this is a cash payment from the local authority that you can spend on meeting your needs.
  • Indirectly commissioned services – for people who can’t or don’t want to manage the money themselves.
  • Directly commissioned services – were services are arranged on your behalf via your local authority.

If you have any experience with self-directed support, please share.

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