Self-directed Support: Practitioners Guidance

A practice guide on Self-directed Support for practitioners

Legal duties

The Act, implementated on 1st April 2014, enshrines in law the key principles that already inform best practice. From that date, practitioners must ‘have regard’ to the following principles when engaging with all individuals who are assessed and those who then require support. These form new legal duties:

  • Involvement.
  • Informed choice.
  • Collaboration.
  • Dignity.
  • Participation.

Successful implementation of the new Act will be dependent upon practitioners keeping these values and principles central within their practice.

The new duties summarised:

  • A person must have as much involvement in the assessment process as they wish and also in the provision of support services. It is built into the Act that people must be enabled to participate in their own assessment. This includes NHS partners.
  • The local authority and those delegated must collaborate with the individual in relation to the assessment of the person’s needs for support or services and the provision of support or services for the person.
  • When a person has been assessed as eligible for support there is a duty to offer four choices in relation to how that support will be facilitated. There is also a duty to ensure these choices are informed through consideration of impact and implications.
  • A person must be provided with any reasonable assistance to enable them to express any views they have about the options for self-directed support. This will require consideration of, for example, advocacy, interpreter or other communication support.

The duty to offer the four options is a specifically a duty for the local authority. They are expained in detail in ‘The four options’ section. They are:

  1. A direct payment.
  2. Directing the available support.
  3. Services arranged for the person by the authority.
  4. A mixture of the three above.

When a person is eligible to choose one of these four options, the authority must give the person:

  • information on how to manage the support
  • information about where else to get information and help about managing the support

If the authority considers that the supported person is ineligible to receive direct payments the authority must notify the supported person of:

  • the reasons for refusal
  • the circumstances in which the authority must review this decision.

If a person is not considered eligible for any of the four options this requires to be explained in writing.

At each review the four options must be offered formally again, even if there are no changes.

Adult carers
A new power in the Act is that the authority must consider the assessment and decide whether the adult has needs in relation to the care they provide, or intend to provide, to the person that is cared for.

Duties for Local Authorities

  • Local authorities must take steps to promote the availability of the options for self-directed support.
  • Local authorities must, in so far as is reasonably practicable, promote a variety of providers of support and a variety of support.

In addition, NHS partners should consider where collaboration in support planning can extend to sharing resources. The closer integration of health and social care encourages the pooling of resources to meet joint health and social care needs. This means that NHS partners should work with councils in a collaborative way in relation to their role in self-directed support.

(Risk in relation to these new duties is addressed the sections on assessment; eligibility; support; planning; the four options and, risk).


Email: Heather Palmer

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