Frequently Asked Questions

What is Self-directed Support?

Self-Directed Support (SDS) is the way of providing social care in Scotland that ensures individuals have choice and control over their care, support and life. The aim of Self-Directed Support is to enable individuals to live independent lives, ensuring that people who need care and support have the same freedom and choices as others.

Under SDS, local authorities in Scotland have a legal duty to offer you different choices regarding your care. These choices are described as options and fall into four categories:

Option 1 (Direct Payment)

Option 2 (Individual Service Fund)

Option 3 (Arranged Services)

Option 4 (a combination of two or more of the other options)

Click (or tap) on the links above to find out more information about each option.

What is a budget and how does it work?

Your budget is the pot of money that your local council will pay towards the care and support that you need. The amount of money in your budget is decided by your local council after an assessment that will establish the level of support you require.

Once you have completed an assessment and are receiving a budget, you can decide how this is spent through SDS.

Who is Self-Directed Support for?

SDS is for anybody who requires care and support. If you have been assessed by your local authority as eligible for a care and support budget, you are then also eligible for SDS.

What is a support plan?

A support plan will show how your budget will be spent. This is usually agreed between a care manager and the person who is receiving support or a loved one who is managing care on their behalf.

A support plan will detail how your budget will meet your outcomes. An outcome is something you want to achieve as part of your support package. It could be to learn how to swim, manage your finances or to live independently.

What can I use Self-Directed Support for?

You can use the options available under SDS to meet the outcomes that have been agreed as part of your support plan. Here are a few of the ways that people use SDS:

  • Employ their own carer (also known as a Personal Assistant)
  • Purchase specialist equipment or technology
  • Attend social activities and clubs
  • Access sports and leisure
  • Go on a short break or attend respite
  • Purchase care from a selected service provider
  • Transport costs

What does Cornerstone SDS do?

Cornerstone SDS is an advice and information service based in the Grampian area. We offer support by helping you to understand SDS and the care available to you. Through providing guidance, we can help you make the most of your care package by finding solutions that best meet your needs.

We have a team of advisors who can support you to make choices about your care, and how this can best work for you. Whether it is to ask questions or help you with the entire SDS process, we are here to support you.

Is Cornerstone SDS the same as the social care charity Cornerstone?

Although we work in partnership with Cornerstone and Aberdeenshire Council to deliver our service, Cornerstone SDS is very different from social care charity Cornerstone.

  • Cornerstone provide practical care through housing support, residential and community care.
  • Cornerstone SDS offer information and guidance by providing you with an advisor who will support you to understand what care is available to you and how this can be managed.

What does an SDS Advisor do?

We have a team of advisors who cover the Aberdeenshire area as well as Aberdeen City. Our advisors are here to help you make sense of SDS and will be available to support you for the duration of your care package.

A Cornerstone SDS Advisor will:

  • Meet with you through an information visit and offer you advice and support
  • Assist you to make informed choices about SDS and the options available to you
  • Signpost you to relevant services and resources that meet your needs
  • Support you with the entire recruitment process for direct payment personal assistants. We will advertise your vacancy, handle applications, support you with interviews and assist with references and disclosures
  • Work alongside family members and professionals such as care managers and social workers to ensure you receive the best possible support
  • Support you with direct payments by helping you to employ a personal assistant and provide guidance on becoming an employer

What does it mean to be an employer?

When you choose to have your own personal assistant through a Direct Payment you then become an employer. As an employer, you will have certain responsibilities such as making sure your employees have a safe working environment.

Cornerstone SDS offers HR guidance and advice through our partnership with Law at Work, a locally based human resources company. If you choose to become an employer, we will be here to support you every step of the way.

Who employs Personal Assistants?  

As an information and guidance service, personal assistants are not employed by Cornerstone SDS.

Personal assistants who are employed through a Direct Payment are either employed by the supported person or somebody who is managing the care on their behalf (usually a friend or family member).

How does my Personal Assistant get paid?

Cornerstone SDS will support you to set up a managed payroll account or a basic payroll account with a payroll provider.

The payroll provider will organise for your personal assistants to be paid, ensuring tax and national insurance is being paid. If you decide on a managed payroll service, all you have to do as an employer is send in your personal assistants time sheets each month. The money paid will come directly from your payment card account.

What about my Personal Assistants pension?

Your payroll provider will organise pension payments if your personal assistant qualifies. Your personal assistant will be auto enrolled if they meet the requirements but will have the option to opt out. Your contribution towards their pension will be calculated by your payroll provider and taken from your direct payment through your payment card account.

Does Cornerstone SDS have a bank of Personal Assistants?

Unfortunately, we do not have a bank of personal assistants that we can provide if your PA is unable to come into work.

Your SDS advisor can give you guidance around what to do if your personal assistant is unable to come into work, is on annual leave or extended leave.

For more information about Option 1 and employing your own personal assistants, please click here.

What is the difference between Option 1 and Option 2?

Option 2 (also known as an Individual Service Fund) gives you the choice and control over your support without having to manage the money yourself.

Unlike Option 1 (direct payment) you cannot employ your own carers using option 2. You can purchase support from a care provider through option 2 and the payment of your support will be handled by what is known as an ‘Individual Service Fund provider’.

What is an ISF Provider?

Simply, an ISF provider is the organisation that will manage your money and ensure your outcomes are being achieved through your budget. Your money is held by your chosen ISF provider and you choose how it is spent.

For example, if you decide that a care agency will come in to support you three time a week, your ISF provider would pay this agency from your budget. This means you don’t have to worry about managing your funds but still have choice and control over what type of care you receive.

Cornerstone SDS can support you to select a provider and find suitable agencies, equipment or activities that will meet your outcomes.

Who do I contact if I have any problems with my ISF support?

If you decide to use your individual service fund to purchase support from a care agency, your main contact for any problems or queries will be the agency providing your care. You can also ask your ISF provider to act on your behalf and contact them for you.

What can I use an ISF for?

You can use your ISF for anything that meets the outcomes in your support plan. Individual Service Funds are designed to be flexible. You might decide to use your ISF to:

  • Pay for activity or club fees
  • Education classes
  • Transport costs
  • Specialist equipment
  • Purchase support from a care agency

For more information about Option 2 and ISF providers, please click here.