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Self Directed Support Care Options Explained

Though the Social Care (Self Directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013 has been in legislation for a number of years it remains the case that individuals who require care are not always aware of the options that are available to them. Here we will explain what each option means in practice to allow individuals to become informed and make the decision which is best for them.


Option One: commonly referred to as a Direct Payment


The making of a direct payment by the Local Authority to the supported person for the provision of support.  In brief, this means the person could arrange their own support by employing someone or by personally arranging with a care provider to support them. This care option provides wide ranging opportunity however with that opportunity comes responsibility


  • They would have to open a Bank account, so the direct payment could be paid as cash sum. The amount of funding is what the Local Authority considers a reasonable estimate of the cost of securing the provision of support to which a direct payment relates.
  • There is a clear contract between them and the local authority regarding what this money must be used for.
  • The opportunities that go with this option include the choice, control and flexibility they would have regarding the service provisions and who supplies the support and when.
  • They would have the responsibility of engaging with a Care Provider or by contracting with an individual on an employment basis. If they choose to employ they are then responsible for organising their own support and in the recruitment of their staff.
  • By choosing to become an employer they have to ensure that they fulfil their statutory and contractual obligations to their employee.


If they decide that option 1 is for them there is usually a local support organization to help and support the individual in becoming an employer or to engage with a Care Provider and to guide them through the paperwork process.

In summary – A direct payment can be used in a variety of different ways provided that it will secure the provisions of support agreed with the outcomes contained in the support plan.


Option Two

This involves the selection of support by the supported person and the making of arrangements for the provision of it by the local authority on behalf of the supported person.  Where the support is provided by someone other than the authority (a Care Provider), the payment will be made by the local authority for the relevant amount in respect of the cost of that provision.

This can be arranged in many ways


Money is managed by the Care Manager

  • People do not have to receive individual budget as a cash payment.
  • Their care manager continues to control the budget.
  • They will plan and organise services on their behalf.
  • Their Care Manager will oversee purchasing services up to the value of the individual budget and for ensuring that the support is paid for.
  • Free from carrying out arranging support for those who can do it themselves, they can focus on those who require their specialist needs.


An Agent

  • Is an individual or group of individuals who manage the money on their behalf.
  • This can be a family member or member of a circle of friends.
  • They can support them in drawing up a support plan.
  • The Local Authority will then contract with the Agent.
  • The agent may ask that someone else manages the funding or they can manage the funding on their behalf.


Service Provider

  • They may choose to have their individual budget paid directly from the Local Authority to the Care Provider of their choice.
  • The money is then managed through an Individual Service Fund.
  • This funding can only be spent on providing support they have agreed and is written in their support plan.
  • There will be a management fee for this, the amount of which should be agreed in advance.


Option Three: referred to as traditional support

The Local Authority selects the appropriate support and arranges support on behalf of the supported person.

This care option is what many people experience at the moment. This is sometimes referred to as traditional services or local authority arranged services

  • The Local Authority would deal with the arranging and paying of the support provided to the supported individual.
  • This support would be what they see as appropriate to their requirements.


Option Four: Mix and Match

This care option is a combination of two or more of the other options. This recognises that some people will be content enough to take on some, but not all, of the control associated with one or other of the self-directed options. This is a mix and match approach to ensure maximum flexibility in the options available. This option might be good for people who would like to experiment with the direct payment or individual services fund for a small aspect of their support or a small proportion of their outcomes.



The above outlines the choices any supported person can make with regards to their care.

Emcare training courses can be utilised by Care Providers or personal assistant employers to ensure their chosen staff have the requisite skills to provide the support they require.

There are a number of courses that Emcare can provide such as Moving and Assisting of People, Food Hygiene, First Aid and Epilepsy & Rescue Medication Awareness which depend on the presenting support needs of the individual.

If you require any further information on this article or if you would like information on any of our social care and health care specific courses please email us at or call us on 0141 404 0075.


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