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 6: Inform the Provision of Information, Additional Support and Advocacy

This section describes the legal duties in relation to support and information services that are imposed on the authority by the 2013 Act. It applies to adults, children and carers of all ages. It is provided at this early point within the guidance in order to reflect the place of information and support within the person's pathway - i.e. to emphasise that support information should be provided at an early point in the process as well as throughout the process of assessment, support planning and the provision of support. It should be considered alongside all other sections of this guidance in particular Section 7 and Section 8.

The legal duties in relation to information, additional support and advocacy

6.1 Section 9 of the 2013 Act imposes a range of duties in relation to the provision of information and support to any adult, child or carer assessed as requiring support. This provides an important addition to the collection of duties imposed on authorities in relation to assessment and the provision of care and support. The main duties are described in Table 5 below:

Table 5: Information and support duties imposed by the 2013 Act

Duty Purpose behind the duty and what it should mean in practice

"Informed choice": the duty to assist the person to express their views and to make an informed choice about the support options available to them

Under the 2013 Act the authority must provide the supported person with any assistance that is reasonably required in order a) that the person can express their views about the options available and b) make an informed choice about those options.

This duty is to ensure that the supported person can express what they want from their support and how they wish to arrange their support. It plays a key role in ensuring that the authority can deliver its assessment functions in line with the statutory principles of collaboration and informed choice. The assistance can be provided by the authority itself (i.e. by the social worker), "circles of support" (i.e. people who can assist the supported person to choose what they want), support and information organisations, advocacy organisations or any other person or organisation including peer support organisations, third sector organisations or others.

"Nature and effect": the duty to explain the implications of the support options available to the person

The authority must explain to the person the nature and effect of each of the options.

The authority must give the information in writing and, if necessary, in such other form as is appropriate to the needs of the supported person.

This duty is to ensure that all four options are described in full to the supported person and in a format appropriate to the person. Each option should be explained in appropriate detail and each option should be given appropriate weight as a feasible option for all or some of the person's support needs. The responsibility for discharging this duty rests on the social work professional as part of the assessment process, though in addition it can also be discharged via independent organisations and further sources of information. The authority should seek to explain the basic characteristics of the options available to the supported person. In particular, it should seek to describe the distinctions between the different options. The authority should use terms that the supported person can engage with and relate to, and it should make the options clear. Again, there is a clear link to the statutory principles provided elsewhere in the 2013 Act, in particular the principles of involvement and informed choice.

The requirement to give the information in writing reflects the importance of written information in the form of pamphlets and other relevant materials. However the authority should also consider the specific communication needs of the person. It should tailor its communication to suit the requirements of the person. This is to ensure that the person can make informed choices about their support.

"Additional information to manage your support"

The duty to provide the person with information about how to manage their support.

This duty is particularly relevant to Options 1 and 2 in the 2013 Act, i.e. the two options which involve greater responsibility and day-to-day management. This is important because it ensures that the person is made aware of the additional support available to the person to assist them to manage their support after their initial choices are made. It can help to address any concerns that the person may have about the burdens involved in directing their support. It can help the person to make an active and informed choice about the Option that is appropriate to them.

Independent and peer led support

The duty to provide the person with information about persons (including persons who are not employed by the authority) who can provide (i) assistance or information to the person to assist the person in making decisions about the options, (ii) information about how to manage support.

This imposes a duty on the authority to direct the person to all relevant sources of independent information and support available in the local area or via the relevant national organisations. This encompasses peer led support organisations along with any other organisations independent of the authority.

Advocacy services

In any case where the authority considers it appropriate to do so, the duty to provide information about independent advocacy services (within the meaning of section 259(1) of the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003).

Where the person has a right to advocacy services, this duty requires the authority to direct the supported person towards the relevant services.

6.2 The authority should base its approach on the statutory principles of collaboration, informed choice and involvement. The support and information provided to the person must be impartial, balanced and well informed. The emphasis should be on supporting the person to make an informed choice. The authority should ensure that the relevant professional and support staff are provided with appropriate training, guidance and support in order to ensure that they can discharge their duties and in order that they can explain the options in a clear and accessible way.

Case Study example: Alex's story

My name is Alex and I live in a small village. I have multiple sclerosis and I have been managing my own direct payment (DP) for almost 2 years now. I previously received a service from an agency, however, they were going through some changes and unfortunately they had to make some of their workers redundant and this included my regular carer. I was told about direct payments by my social worker, and I decided I would go for it, so I could employ my old carer from the agency who I had a good working relationship with. It all seemed a little daunting to begin with, but I had a meeting with my social worker and an Independent Living Officer from my local peer support organisation who explained how the direct payment could be used and what my responsibilities would be if I decided to become an employer of my own Personal Assistants (PAs).

The local peer support organisation supported me to get everything in place before I started to employ my own PA. They helped me get set up with payroll, organise contracts of employment and decide on a suitable rate of pay for my PA. They advised me to make sure I reserved enough funding to cover my costs such as holiday and sick pay, things I never knew I had to consider. Once I got set up, and I used the payroll service a couple of times, I was in full swing of managing my own direct payment. I found a second PA who could work for me as relief. This meant that I had the security knowing that I had back up if my first PA was ever off sick or needed a holiday. I could also use an agency at the same time to cover any gaps.

Over the last two years I have had to recruit PA's on a couple of occasions.

Whenever I need to advertise, I contact my support organisation who organise everything for me. We look at the job description and advert to make sure it covers everything I need. Because I now have a mobility car, I look for people who have a driving license so I can use my PA to go to the shops or visit friends. My Independent Living Officer (ILO) takes away all the hassle from recruiting. They keep me right by making sure I keep in line with employment law guidelines. Whenever I have a problem, I know I can just call Sylvia (the ILO) and she will be able to advise me on what to do. Even when it's something I've dealt with before it's always good to know I can just call and reassure myself that what I'm doing is right. I send my timesheets into payroll every month and they do all the calculations for tax, holiday pay, sick pay… everything really. I don't think I would still be managing my direct payment as well as I am if I didn't have this help from my local support organisation.

Last year, I received additional funding into my direct payment to use for respite. I had tried traditional respite before, but it just wasn't for me. I used to book in for a week but ended up going back home early so I wasn't getting the full use of it. I was lucky to have an understanding social worker who suggested we apply for my respite as a DP. With getting the respite funding paid into my DP account, it meant I could choose to go somewhere completely different for a break. I decided to rent self-catering accommodation just south of the border. The accommodation was completely accessible and really affordable. My PA came with me for the weekend and I had a lovely break and I really felt like I completely got away from it all.

To me this means I can arrange my support to suit my own needs. If I'm not feeling well one day and I need more support I can call my PA and ask them to work a longer shift to give me an extra hand. I also feel in more control of my life - I arrange rotas around my personal life so I can get out socialising and doing the things I want to do when I want to do them.

It's important for me to have staff that I trust and can build a good relationship with and my direct payment has allowed me to achieve this. I couldn't have done it without all the support I have had from my support organisation. You never feel alone knowing you have an experienced advice service behind you. Having a DP has been fantastic for me. I really believe it has given me my independence back.

The commissioning of support and information services

6.3 In order to ensure that it can deliver on its obligations under section 9 of the 2013 Act the authority should consider the appropriate mix of information and support options available in their local area. Table 6 and Diagram 2 indicate some of the key forms of information and support.

Diagram 2: key forms of information and support

Diagram 2: key forms of information and support

Table 6: Examples of information and support

Basic information and advice

Information direct from the professional about:

-the choices available to a person and the opportunities and responsibilities that come with each option;

-how to understand and navigate the processes that surround assessment, support planning and review; and

-where to go for further detailed or technical advice and support.

Leaflets and information in accessible formats

Case study examples showing how the various options work

Accessible information in a variety of formats

Mentoring and peer support

Information and support from people with personal experience of care and support or directing their own support

Mentoring for support planning

Contact details for mentoring networks

Support and information services Organisations that are independent or semi-independent from the authority. This may include "in house" support and information services or it may include user-led or peer support organisations.
Brokerage Specialist support to people to plan, procure and manage their own support arrangements under the direct payment option.
Independent advocacy Advocacy services to make sure that people's voices are heard (individually or collectively) during all stages of the care and support pathway

Training on topics such as:

- care and support pathways and key stages such as assessment, support planning, managing your support and review

- disability, diversity and equality

- confidence and assertiveness

The role of independent and peer support

6.4 The authority should consider the role of independent or user-led organisations such as centres for independent living, specialist support organisations with an expertise in the person's support needs, organisations with expertise in supporting specific service user groups or organisations with a general role to advise citizens. This will require strategic vision, planning and commissioning of a strategy within the local authority. A sustainable plan will ensure a range of support services.

6.5 User-led support and information organisations operate on a peer support model. They offer a unique contribution, helping disabled people to understand their options to relate to the needs of others in the same situation. Their staff and volunteers may have personal experience of care and support services. It is this experience which helps to inform the design and delivery of support services, leading to high quality, relevant and appropriate information and support.

The role of advocacy and advocacy services

6.6 As stated in table 6 the authority, where it considers it appropriate to do so, must provide the supported person with information about independent advocacy services. Advocacy and advocacy services provide a unique role. The authority should seek to use their discretion to maximum positive effect and should signpost the person to advocacy services in all instances where they consider this appropriate.

Further guidance and hyperlinks:

Further information is available from the Self Directed Support Scotland (SDSS) website

SDSS Information and Support Site

Scottish Government (2005) The New Mental Health Act: A guide to independent advocacy: Information for Service Users and their Carers

Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance

Scottish Government (2012) A Right to Speak: Supporting Individuals who use Alternative and Augmentative Communication


Email: Heather Palmer

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