The Social Work Scotland Self-directed Support team, funded by Scottish Government, have led the co-production of a framework of eleven standards to support the implementation of Self-directed Support. These were agreed by COSLA on the 19th March 2021, and are now available on the Scottish Government website.

Click here to read the Self-directed Support Framework of Standards

Social Work Scotland’s Self-directed Support team – commissioned by Scottish Government, have developed the draft standards alongside a learning review, which was carried out by an independent researcher, outlining the team’s journey of consultation, engagement and research.

Click here to read the Self-directed Support National Framework Learning Review

Next steps

The standards will form part of a National Framework, and we’re now planning the next phase of the project which will focus on implementation of the standards, the update of national guidance, the development of an online resource which will host nationally developed tools and resources. This work will continue to be done in conjunction with our national partners.

Self-Directed Support Project

The Scottish health and social care system was recently reviewed through the Independent Review of Adult Social Care as it moves towards an integrated, person-centred, rights-based approach to Social Care. Self-directed Support (SDS) is a key driver of this change as it provides important legal rights for people to exercise greater choice and control over how their assessed needs are met. 

The recently published Promisedeveloped from the findings from the Independent Review of Care from a Children and Familieperspective also acknowledges that people need more choice and control over their supports.  


It is widely acknowledged that the implementation of the Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013 has been variable across Scotland.  The Adult Social Care Reform Programme and more recently, the Independent Review of Adult Social Care, seek to redress this. 

The Self-directed Support Project Team, funded by Scottish Government and hosted by Social Work Scotland are developing a National SDS Framework to help to reduce this inconsistency. This framework consists of a set of standards, helpful tools and resources, and a set of action statements which demonstrate what good SDS looks like, building on the Change Map, 2019.This framework should assist local authorities with their ongoing implementation of SDS. 

The draft standards have been developed, drawing on national research and effective evidenced-based practice, in consultation with key stakeholders (local authorities, national partner organisations and supported people). These standards were presented and noted at the COSLA Health and Social Care Board in October 2020, and were approved at the COSLA Health and Social Care Board in March 2021.

Consultation with Local Authorities 

The team wrote to all Chief Executives, Chief Social Work Officers and Chief Officers requesting the completion of a consultation asking local authorities how easy or difficult it will be for them to implement the draft SDS Standards.  

The questions posed test three assumptions that underpin the draft SDS standards, and focus not on ‘what can we do with the resources we currently have?’ but ‘what will it take to do what needs to be done’ to implement the standards.  

The three assumptions involve: 

  1. taking a strengths-based, asset-based approach to assessment support planning and review processes 
  2. focusing on community supports  
  3. systems and processes being aligned to SDS values and principles  

We asked that one questionnaire is completed and returned from each local authority, covering both Adults and Children and Families services. The closing date for this consultation was 8 January 2020, and we received a very good level of response, with 25 responses being received from 22 Local Authorities.  

A ‘Call for Comment’

For staff or anyone else who would like to comment on the standards, another engagement was held concurrently to the local authority consultation.  We asked  people to provide their opinions on the SDS standards and to share any helpful ideas they may have around how to implement them, at a local or national level.   This engagement attracted 32 responses. 

The Findings 

The findings from both of these consultations have been used to inform the future development of the national framework for SDS and to inform the team’s contribution into the Independent Review of Adult Social Care.  

If you have any questions, queries or suggestions, please contact the team at  


Jane Kellock Head of Social Work Strategy and Development