Self Directed Support is being introduced in Northern Ireland and will progressively be rolled out to all disabled people.

What is Self Directed Support?

Self Directed Support is a new initiative for delivering social care, led by the Health and Social Care Board, along similar lines to those followed in England and Scotland over the last few years. The concept, which is being adapted to the context and delivery channels existing in Northern Ireland, offers disabled people and their families a more informed choice in which their care they require is provided.

Self Directed Support (SDS) relates to the way that disabled people and their families can choose the way in which care is provided and allows for greater control and more flexibility by disabled people and their families over a personal budget available through the 5 Health and Social Care Trusts (HSCT(s)). It includes a number of options for getting support.

The individual’s personal budget can be:

  • Taken as a direct payment (funds provided by your HSCT), 
  • A manageD budget (where the HSCT holds a budget, but the disabled person is in control of how it is spent), 
  • The HSCT can arrange a service, or 
  • The disabled person  can choose a mixture of these options.

How does it work?

The introduction of SDS means that once a Health and Social Care Trust (HSCT) agrees that a disabled person needs social care support, they can work together with their key worker to agree how that care is to be provided i.e. the way that best meets the disabled person’s assessed needs.

If the disabled person you care for needs help to organise their support they can ask the Trust, family members or a friend to help with this. CILNI can provide advice and support on how this can best be achieved.

What are SDS’s advantages?

The aim of SDS is to promote independence by offering more flexibility on how services are provided to disabled people who are assessed as being eligible for social care support.

SDS enables disabled people to take more control over decisions which affect their 
lives. It is intended to support independent living by giving disabled people more choice, control and flexibility over their own care.

How can SDS benefit you?

SDS allows you to choose what type of support you receive and where and 
when you receive it. For example you might want to:

  • Have your support staff visit at a time that you choose.
  • Employ your own personal assistant and choose how and what time they work for you.

The Southern HSCT has been running a SDS pilot, to see how SDS could benefit you or someone you know, read Jude’s, Ruth’s and Wendy’s stories.

• Jude’s Story – Transcript of video

• Ruth’s Story – Transcript of video

• Wendy’s Story – Transcript of video

How does it work?

The Health and Social Care Board has produced a video entitled “The Self Directed Support Pick ‘n’ Mix” explaining how Self Directed Support could work for you. You can watch the video on our Videos and Podcasts page.

Alternatively, you can read the Transcript of the Pick ‘n’ Mix video.

You can also view or download the frequently asked questions (FAQS) for:

  • Service Users
  • Carers.

When will SDS be available?

SDS conducted an Equality Impact Assessment consultation over a 12 week period in May, 2015.

Positive feedback was received and following further analysis, it is planned to roll out to roll SDS out throughout the whole of Northern Ireland in 2016. CILNI staff are part of the team providing training to HSCTs staff throughout the region.

Further information on the consultation is available to view or download from the Previous Consultation section of the Health and Social Care board’s website and the full Equality Impact Assessment document will be published when completed.

What if you are happy with your current support arrangements?

You do not have to change your own support if you prefer not to. You can have support arranged by the Trust, continued to use Direct Payments on their own, or you can have a mixed package where you direct some of your support.

SDS provides a menu of options which offers you more choice, greater control and more flexibility over the way your care and support needs can be met.

More information on Self Directed Support

For more information on Self Directed Support, speak to your key worker in social services or contact CILNI.

 You might also be interested to read an article entitled "How personal budgets have the potential to transform public services" published recently on the Guardian newspaper website which can be found at: <