Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013: statutory guidance

Statutory guidance on social care assessment and associated process covering adults, children, young carers and adult carers.

Section 4: Values, Statutory Principles and Human Rights

This section elaborates on the core values and principles of care and support. It highlights the statutory principles which the authority must consider when they conduct an assessment. It applies to all client groups and all ages including support to adults, children/families and carers.


4.1 The values which underpin this guidance are:

  • respect;
  • fairness;
  • independence;
  • freedom, and;
  • safety.

4.2 The authority should consider these values as part of its strategy, guidance, procedures and policies in relation to social care services.

Statutory Principles

4.3 The 2013 Act provides four statutory principles. The purpose of the statutory principles is to guide the authority in its implementation of the relevant legal duties on care and support. The statutory principles are important because they carry legal weight. They articulate the underlying aims or "spirit" of the legislation and complement the detailed duties and powers provided elsewhere in the Act. They apply to the initial assessment of need and to the provision of choice in order to meet those needs. The four principles are described below.

Participation and dignity

4.4 Participation and dignity are core aspects of independent living. They describe the approach whereby the supported person has the same freedom, choice, dignity and control as other citizens at home, at work and in the community. In some respects the concept of independent living provides a modern interpretation of the social welfare duties provided in the 1968 Act. Under the statutory principle of participation and dignity the authority must take reasonable steps to facilitate the principle a) that the supported person's right to dignity is to be respected, and; b) that the supported person's right to participate in the life of the community is to be respected. This applies both to the initial assessment of need and to the provision of choice as part of the wider support planning process.


4.5 This is the principle that the supported person must have as much involvement as the person wishes in both the assessment and in the provision of support associated with that assessment. This recognises the importance of involving the adult, carer or child in determining their needs and developing appropriate solutions in order to meet those needs.

Informed choice

4.6 This is the principle that the supported person must be provided with any assistance that is reasonably required to enable the person to express views about the options available to them and to make an informed choice about their options for support. This is a key principle, essential to ensuring that the person can be fully involved in designing and implementing their support.


4.7 This is the principle that the professional must collaborate with the supported person in relation to the assessment of the person's needs and in the provision of support or services to the person. A collaborative approach can help to stimulate new or alternative solutions. It supports an equal partnership between the professional (able to bring their expertise, knowledge and statutory and professional responsibilities) and the adult, child or carer (aware of and expert in their personal outcomes, supported to articulate and develop those outcomes and how they wish to achieve them).

Summary: statutory and good practice principles appropriate to assessment and the provision of support

4.8 Beyond the statutory principles the authority should consider further good practice principles. The following table brings together:

  • the statutory principles within the 2013 Act, and;
  • additional good practice principles which should help to underpin good practice in assessment and support planning.

Table 1: The legal principles that must underpin assessment

The principle What it means in practice

Participation -

a statutory principle and a key aspect of independent living

The supported person should be provided with the help that they need to participate in and be part of, the life of their community and wider society

Underpinned by Section 2 of the 2013 Act

Dignity -

a statutory principle and a key aspect of independent living

The professional should facilitate the supported person's right to dignity.

Underpinned by Section 2 of the 2013 Act

Involvement -

a statutory principle

The professional should involve the supported person in a genuine and active way in deciding their outcomes and in planning and delivering their support.

Underpinned by section 1 of the 2013 Act.

Communities should be assisted to play an active role in the commissioning of services.

Informed Choice -

a statutory principle

The supported person should receive the assistance they need to help them to make an informed choice.

Underpinned by Section 1 of the 2013 Act


a statutory principle

The professional and the supported person should work together in the completion of the assessment, the support plan and in the provision of support.

Underpinned by Section 1 of the 2013 Act

Responsibility The supported person should be able to take as much control over their support as they wish. In return, the supported person should exercise that choice and control in a responsible way.
Risk enablement The supported person should be assisted to feel safe and secure in all aspects of life, to enjoy safety but not to be over-protected and, in so far as possible, to be free from exploitation and abuse.
Innovation The professional and the supported person should develop creative solutions to meet the outcomes identified in the support plan.

The relationship between human rights, social care assessment and self-directed support

4.9 This section provides guidance on the relevance of human rights to the 2013 Act and to the provision of social care and support. The provision of social care, and the facilitation of choice as part of this, is a means by which to protect human rights. Effective person-centred support, determined and led by the adult, child or carer in partnership with the relevant professional increases the choice for the supported person and provided them with the opportunity to take more control and manage their life. The authority has a further role to play in support, advice and signposting to other services.

A Human Rights Based Approach

4.10 A human rights based approach is a way of empowering people to know and claim their rights. It increases the ability and accountability of individuals and the relevant professionals who are responsible for respecting, protecting and fulfilling rights. This means giving people greater opportunities to participate in shaping the decisions that impact on their human rights. There are some underlying principles which are important in applying a human rights-based approach in practice, known as the PANEL Principles: Table 2 explains what these principles are:

Table 2: PANEL Principles

Participation Everyone has the right to participate in decisions which affect their human rights. Participation must be active, free, and meaningful and give attention to issues of accessibility, including access to information in a form and a language which can be understood.
Accountability Accountability requires effective monitoring of human rights standards. For accountability to be effective there must be appropriate laws, policies, administrative procedures and mechanisms of redress in order to secure human rights.
Non-discrimination A human rights based approach means that all forms of discrimination must be prohibited, prevented and eliminated. It also requires the prioritisation of those in the most vulnerable situations who face the biggest barriers to realising their rights.
Empowerment People should understand their rights, and be fully supported to participate in the development of policy and practices which affect their lives. People should be able to claim their rights where necessary.
Legality A human rights based approach requires the recognition of rights as legally enforceable entitlements, and is linked in to national and international human rights law.

FAIR - Rights based decision making

  • Facts- What is the experience of the individual? Are they being heard? What are the important facts to understand?
  • Analysis of rights at stake- What are the human rights at stake? Can the rights be restricted? What is justification for restricting the right? Is the restriction proportionate?
  • Identify shared responsibilities- What changes are necessary? Who has responsibilities for making changes?
  • Review actions- Have the actions taken been appropriately recorded and reviewed and has the individual been involved.

Human Rights and SDS

4.11 Social care, and the provision of choice as part of the assessment and support planning process, is a way of protecting human rights. By providing options to the supported person the authority can facilitate greater choice and independence in managing the supported person's life. Human rights are core to independent living and core to the values of social work. They provide a legal and value base for setting priorities in policy and practice, as well as the delivery of services. They provide both a means of doing things, driven by human rights standards and principles. A wider human rights culture throughout the supported person's pathway will improve outcomes, person and outcome centred service delivery and decision making processes.

Human Rights and the assessment

4.12 The human rights approach needs to be at the forefront of assessments for social care provision and the further provision of support following that assessment. The authority, when carrying out an assessment, should consider the whole experience of the supported person . It should consider the needs and the outcomes of the person, balancing risks against decision making. In addition, it should consider human rights as part of its development of the relevant strategies, protocols, procedures and guidance associated with social care provision.

Further guidance and hyperlinks

See section 7 of this document for further guidance on assessment and eligibility.

Scottish Human Rights Commission

Being Human: A human rights based approach to Health and Social Care in Scotland

Equality Advisory and Support Service


Email: Heather Palmer

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