Self-directed Support : my support, my choice: your guide to social care

A guide to help you if you are getting social care support or if you are thinking of getting support

What if things go wrong?

When can the council refuse my choice of support?

Councils and their staff have what is called a 'duty of care' which means that they have to be sure that any support they give you, or pay for, is meeting your needs. If they don't think the support you want will meet your needs then they can refuse to arrange it with you.

For children, the council must be sure that the support bought will keep the child safe and improve his or her welfare before it will agree to it.

The professional working with you should only refuse your chosen support if it is clear it will not meet your needs. If this happens they should:

  • explain why the kind of support you chose will not meet your needs
  • help you to look at other kinds of support that might meet your needs
  • tell you about your right to complain through the complaints procedure

What if I disagree with the professional working with me?

You should speak to the professional working with you, or if you can't do that you should speak to a senior social worker or a service manager. Then there might be a review which could solve the problem.

If you can't agree about your assessment then you might want to make a formal complaint through the council's complaints procedure.

What can you complain about?

You can use the local council's complaint process to complain about any of the following things:

  • decisions about assessment and support, including the amount of money and time allowed for your support
  • the way your council arranged your support
  • decisions made by professionals about your support

How do I make a complaint?

You can ask the professional working with you for information on how to complain. If you don't want to do that you can look on your council's website for information on how to complain or you can call their central contact number and tell the operator that you want to make a social work complaint.

What is the complaints procedure?

Each council's complaints procedure has three stages:

1. At first, every attempt will be made to resolve the complaint by the council;

2. If the problem hasn't been solved, it will be investigated by specially picked staff;

3. If the problem still hasn't been solved, you can ask for a Complaints Review Committee to look into it. Complaints Review Committees will have some council staff but must also have some independent members as well.

What if I disagree with the result of the complaints procedure?

After the local complaints procedure the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) ( will look at your complaint independently.

The SPSO won't usually consider your complaint unless you have already completed your council's procedure. If you are still unhappy after the council sends you their final letter about your complaint, please contact the SPSO as soon as you can. The SPSO don't usually look at complaints if the thing you want to complain about happened more than a year ago. They also don't look at complaints that have been dealt with in court.

Advice and information

  • Remember you can ask you family members or a friend to help you at this stage.
  • You can also get support from a local support organisation. Find your local support organisation at:
  • Could an independent advocate help you to have a stronger voice? Find an advocate in your area at:


Email: Hetaher Palmer

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