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

Getting support

What is social care support?

If you think you need support in your daily life then you may want to contact your council to talk about this with a professional, like a social worker.

They will work with you to find out what support you might need. If they agree you need support they will arrange it with you.

Social care support is available to everyone, but whether you get support depends on what your needs are and your council's rules.

Why do I need a guide to social care?

Social care is changing. In the past your council would have decided what support you should get and would have arranged it for you. You wouldn't have had much say in who supported you or the kind of support you got.

Now you can have much more choice over your support. The council should work with you to help you find the support that you want and which fits with your life.

This is called self-directed support.

What is self-directed support?

Self-directed support is about having choice, control and flexibility over the support you receive.

Self-directed support is when:

  • you work with the council to make sure you get the support that's right for you
  • you are treated with respect by the professionals working with you
  • you are given help to understand the choices you have and are able decide what choice to make
  • the professional helps you look at new and different ways to support you to live life the way you want
  • you are involved in deciding how your support is planned and arranged
  • your support helps you to take part in the life of the community
  • you are given as much control over your support as you want and you use that control responsibly
  • your support helps you to feel safe and secure but also allows you to take some risks that are necessary for you to learn new skills or do new things

How do I get support?

In your area there will be a contact telephone number for your council. You can call yourself, or have a friend, neighbour, doctor, family member, nurse, or someone else make contact for you. Or you can go onto your council's website and search for social care services, social work services or community care services to find out more.

A professional from the council will arrange to visit you. They will start to assess the support you need, and whether the council can give that support. There is more information on assessment in the next chapter.

If you already get support but you don't think it is meeting your needs, you can ask for a review.

The Person's Pathway

There are different steps to getting support. The steps are called the Person's Pathway. Here's how it might work for you.

The Person's Pathway

Who might be involved in my support?


There is nobody who is more of an expert on your life than you.

Your family or friends can also be involved if you want them to.

The professional working with you

This will usually be a social worker from the council but in some cases it might be another professional, such as an Occupational Therapist (OT), or someone from the National Health Service (NHS). Their job is to listen to you and the other people in your life to find out if support would make things better for you.

If support would make things better for you, the professional will work with you to arrange support that is right for you.

Support provider

This is the person or organisation that gives you the support you need. It could be:

  • an organisation that provides staff and other support to you
  • a personal assistant that you employ to support you
  • the council or the NHS
  • or any organisation that provides a service that could help you

Support organisation

This is an organisation or group that can help people with choosing and organising their support. It could be:

  • a Centre for Inclusive Living
  • a Self-directed Support (SDS) Peer Support Network
  • an Independent Broker
  • an Advocacy Service

There are lots of support organisations. You can find out what organisations are in your area by using this website:

Can children get support?

Yes. Like an adult, a child may need support because they have a disability or another health problem.

A child might also need support because they are at risk in other ways. For example a child might need support if one of their family members has a health problem or an addiction to drugs or alcohol.

If a young person is aged 16-18, then they can choose what kind of support they want.

If a child is aged under 16, then their parent or guardian will make decisions about the child's support but the child must be involved in deciding what happens as much as possible. The local council will give the child information about the different kinds of self-directed support in a way that they will understand.

Most of the information in this guide is useful for children and young people who get support, and their parents. However there is some information which is only useful for children and young people and their parents. This information is indicated by this symbol throughout the guide:

Information and help

Whether you are getting support for the first time or have been getting support for years it's important to know that you can get information and advice at any time.

You can get information and help from a number of different places.

Help from your council

Your council will be an important source of information about your support. The law says your council must give you information about:

  • all the different kinds of support you can get
  • how to manage support
  • where else to get information and help

This information must be in writing. If you need that information to be given to you in another way, such as through an interpreter or in another language, your council must do this for you.

Help from your family and friends

Another important source of information and advice is your friends and family. Your friends and family can have as much say as you want in the decisions you make about your support.

Help from support organisations

Support organisations can offer you help in different ways:

1. Information and help from people who have had support from the council because they have an impairment or another support need.

2. Support to plan and make your own support arrangements by using direct payments.

3. Training to:

  • speak your mind and stand up for yourself
  • manage your support or manage the money for your support
  • employ your own support staff

You can find out what support organisations are in your area by using this website:

Help from an independent advocate

An independent advocate is a person who could help you to have a stronger voice when speaking with your council. An independent advocate will help you get the information you need to make real choices about your support. They might also speak to the council for you if you cannot.

You have a legal right to independent advocacy if you have:

  • dementia
  • mental ill health
  • a learning disability
  • an acquired brain injury

The council must tell people about independent advocacy services and how to get advocacy support if they think the person will benefit from this.

If you want to find an independent advocate in your area use this website:


Email: Hetaher Palmer

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