Self-Directed Support - Life in the Driving Seat

Featured article - 01 May 2020
By Liz Leach Murphy - Managing Director, and Sarah Holmes - Director, at Imagineer

Values and beliefs

The evolution of thinking around how people are supported as equal citizens within our society has been a long journey, reaching back over decades of campaigning, activism and people daring to try to do things differently. The heartfelt stories that have been shared in this time have helped to shape people's thinking and understanding. What became clear is the importance of the values and beliefs we hold, these undoubtedly influence our behaviour, how we relate to others and the actions and decisions we take. Recognising and identifying with our values and beliefs lead to placing meaning to the language we use and action we take to realise, choice, control, community and self-direction.

The Development of Self-Directed Support

When we consider what has contributed to the innovations for Self-Directed Support it is clear that the bedrock for innovation is people with lived experience who do not impose limiting beliefs on themselves or allow other people to impose limiting beliefs on them. The innovation firstly comes from people who are prepared to talk openly about how they want to live and how they want to be supported to achieve this lifestyle. This is then accompanied by the person engaging in a conversation with other people to identify ways to achieve this lifestyle.

Gordon's story

Gordon did not use words to communicate. To make sure he was in the driving seat of his plan we created a communication map. Speaking to the people who knew him well we mapped how Gordon said ‘no’, ‘yes’, ‘I am bored’, ‘I love that idea’ and other key responses. We used this during Gordon's planning session before adding suggestions from his Circle of Support.

The Current Picture

The energy and commitment that people bring to this conversation has a vital influence on the outcome for the person. When people are able to think in the context of what is possible and can identify the role they could play in supporting the person to achieve this outcome; the momentum for Self-Directed Support is created.

We are now living in a world where we are facing a major unprecedented crisis and where the rights we had under the Care Act 2014 have been stripped within the Coronavirus Act 2020, from a duty to a power. At this time more than ever people need to be armed with knowledge about their rights and the support that is available from their local authority and community. As authorities become focused on identifying where they can reduce pressure on their budget, we envisage there will be an increased need for community based support. Now more than ever people are experiencing; cuts in their care and support budgets and a refusal to be provided social care support. People have sadly lost their natural support networks as a result of the pandemic. At this time people need support available to them that is close by, easy to access and where they do not have to go through a bureaucratic process to be identified as eligible.

Brew Crew

At Imagineer we recognised that people would lose their usual way of connecting during lockdown, and this would lead to loneliness and isolation. We developed an online way of connecting called ‘Brew Crew’. This has created an online community who determine their own conversation, offer each other support and share ideas and solutions.


The present time has shown the capacity for communities to show strength, willingness to help and connect. We believe this will continue to grow and strengthen after the pandemic. The role of community in meeting need is greater than ever before.

Linking to Making It Real

The six themes of Making It Real fit with and compliment the work of Self Directed Support which is about the person being in the driving seat.

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