Let’s talk about Dementia & Self-Directed Support

Ok, I know what you are thinking? “Self-Directed Support?…what’s this new bit of jargon I have to get my head around now?” And I get it; the words can be off putting.

But bear with me. If all you take from this blog is one thing, then I would like it to be this:

There is an alternative to the support that social work offers to people living with dementia and their carers. There are a range of standard supports that you might have heard about, like homecare and day services that might be offered by social work. If they don’t sound like they are for you, then you don’t need to just accept them. Options are available and that’s what Self-Directed Support is all about.

My name is Laura and I’m the Self-Directed Support Manager at Alzheimer Scotland. My job is about helping to make it easier for people living with dementia to access Self-Directed Support. There are still too many barriers to people accessing Self-Directed Support and one of the biggest is a lack of awareness and understanding of what Self-Directed Support is and the potential it offers to people living with dementia.

So I want to use this blog to ask you about how much you know about Self-Directed Support. I hope to get you thinking about it and hopefully, encourage you to go and find out more.

If you are someone living with dementia, a carer or family member; do you know about Self-Directed Support? Has anyone explained it and how it could impact on your support and life? Do you know that local authorities have a legal duty to tell everyone they offer support to about the 4 options of Self-Directed Support?

By the way the four options are:pic-1

  • I get the money to spend on support I choose (a direct payment)
  • I tell the council how to spend the money
  • I let the council decide how to spend the money
  • A mix of options 1, 2 and 3.

That means that if you get support through social work, you should have already heard about Self-Directed Support and given a chance to think if you wanted to have more choice and control over your own support.

If you don’t receive any support from social work, Self-Directed Support is something you can expect to hear about and ask about in future.

If you are an Allied Health Professional, I would ask you to consider what you know about Self-Directed Support. Do you think about Self-Directed Support in relation to people living with dementia? Do you see Self-Directed Support as an important part of self-management for people living with dementia and carers? Do you flag Self-Directed Support up to people living with dementia who you meet through your work?

People living with dementia have used Self-Directed Support in lots of different ways to arrange flexible support that suits them and their life. Some people have used Self-Directed Support to recruit and employ Personal Assistants, to have a short break away with family instead of going to a respite centre and to choose which support provider delivers their personal care. It is important that more people living with dementia and carers get the benefit from having more choice and control over their own support.

I’d be really keen to hear answers to all the questions I’ve posed and to support anyone trying to get their head around Self-Directed Support and the potential it can offer someone living with dementia.

You can’t explain Self-Directed Support properly in a blog, or in a leaflet or on a website so I won’t even try. I would urge you to have a good pic-2conversation with someone about it.

There’s lots of help out there if you want to find out more. Social workers should be able to help you or if you are already receiving a service you could contact the local service manager to help you find out more. Dementia Advisors and Dementia Link Workers can also help to explain Self-Directed Support.

There are also lots of local independent support organisations who are there to help people learn about Self-Directed Support and to work with people to organise their own support. You can search for the right contact for your area here http://www.sdsinfo.org.uk/search/

Self-Directed Support best comes to life and makes most sense when we talk to people and their families about what would make a difference to their lives and we start connecting how more choice, control and flexibility could help make those things happen.

I look forward to hearing your answers to the questions above and I hope we keep on talking about dementia and Self-Directed Support!

Laura Finnan Cowan is Alzheimer Scotland’s Self-Directed Support Manager. Please feel free to get in touch with Laura if you would like to know more. lfinnancowan@alzscot.org

pic-5-convertimageLaura Finnan Cowan: Self-Directed Support Manager


As Alzheimer Scotland’s Self-Directed Support Manager, Laura’s job is to help make it easier for people living with dementia to access Self-Directed Support. Laura can support individual enquiries, give talks and info sessions about Self-Directed Support to groups and provide advice and training to professionals.


We want to know what you think about this blog topic.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s