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Self directed support for adults

A guide to self directed support

What is self directed support (SDS)?

'SDS is about improving outcomes for citizens by providing choice, control and independence, through safe, sustainable and economically viable responses to support planning' - Scottish Government 2013

This means that people have choice and control over their lives, including over any support they might need.

SDS is everything that is available to you that helps you live your life. That includes how you help yourself, support from your family, community facilities, advice, information, equipment as well as targeted services and support. All of these are parts of SDS.

Is SDS a service?


SDS is not the name of a type of service, but a way of arranging support that is individual to you so that you can live as independently as possible.

SDS enables you to have more flexibility, choice and control. People are involved in planning their own support from the earliest stage.

Is SDS an individual budget?


SDS is everything and anything that helps people have maximum choice and control in their lives.

Most people will not need an individual budget, as their personal resources, family friends and community resources already help meet their needs.

Some people have critical or substantial needs and require additional support to ensure that they have maximum choice and control in their lives. For this small number of people, an individual budget may be needed as one part of the wider everything and anything that makes up SDS. 

Current national guidance

Following original guidance published by the Scottish government in May 2020, this revised guidance focuses on the changing circumstances of the pandemic, and how self-directed support can be used flexibly in response to the pandemic.

Page last updated:
14 Feb 2024

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