How to get self-directed support

First steps

To apply for self-directed support, contact your local social services and ask for an assessment. You may be asked some initial questions about your circumstances. This is because social services need to decide whether you are eligible before they can offer you an assessment. Generally, people with disabilities or older people are considered to be eligible for an assessment. If you are already receiving help from social services and would like to change to self-directed support you should speak to your social worker about this.


The next stage is completing a self-assessment form to explain what support you need. You can ask for help with filling in the form from a social worker who knows about brain injury, family, friends, or someone who supports you at Headway.

Social services must make the form available in an accessible format, for example in large print or electronically. Some local authorities offer forms that can be completed over the internet.

There is no standard form, but most ask questions which cover:

  • meeting personal care needs - looking after yourself: for example, eating, washing, dressing, shopping
  • relationships - family, friends, people you know
  • being part of the community - for example, using local shops, the library, clubs, community centre, church or other place of worship, helping neighbours, being involved in local organisations
  • work, leisure and learning - having a job, learning new things and enjoying life
  • making decisions - who decides important things like where you live, who supports you, who looks after your money
  • staying safe from harm - for example, when you're going out on a bus, using a gas cooker, or going down stairs
  • complex needs and risks - can your behaviour be dangerous for you or other people?
  • family carer - if someone in your family supports you, what effect does supporting you have on them?

Under each category you will be asked to tick a box to say whether it applies to you and then explain what your difficulties are. It is very important to give as much information as possible when completing the form as social services will use this information to estimate how much money will be allocated to pay for your support.

Self-directed support money can also be used to help prevent future difficulties. It is important to think about whether you might experience problems in the future if you don't get help now. For example, you may be a very sociable person and you may feel that without meeting people regularly or attending a support group you could become isolated. Therefore, it is very important that you consider your future needs and make sure that you convey them on the self-assessment form.

The form usually ends with a section for you to make additional comments. Use this section to tell social services anything else about your support needs that you have not included already. It is important to consider all aspects of the physical, emotional, behavioural and cognitive effects of your brain injury when filling in this section. Don't assume that social services will automatically consider these things as they may not have an understanding of the effects of brain injury.

When you have completed the form you just need to send it back to social services. If you don't know where to address the form then contact social services or speak to your social worker to ask.

Deciding how much your budget will be

Social services use your form to decide your level of need and estimate how much money you need for your support. They also take into account how much money the local authority has available for care services.

Social services will contact you to let you know how much your budget will be. This is the money (personal budget) that you will have to buy services, adaptations, support or equipment to meet your needs.