Building a National Network for Self-Directed Support

October 21, 2018

As we know, there is a very big rhetoric-reality gap between the policy on personalisation and many people’s real life experience. At a local level, too many people are struggling to get their rights to control their own support and are facing bureaucracy, lack of support, over control by the system. Many local groups and organisations are working as hard as they can to support people, but such support has often been decimated by cuts and is struggling to do all it would like.


In response to this, the National Network for Self-Directed Support is a voluntary and informal network that is being built with the support of In Control and others. It has been exploring ways of connecting people working at a local level with each other for mutual support and with external sources of free advice and assistance to give more power to the elbow of local efforts.


Just before Christmas, and despite terrible weather, we gathered together a wide range of people keen to be part of the network – disabled people, families, DPLOs, carers, organisations, support groups, charities, lawyers and others. We spent the day working out what were the key issues to tackle and what we could start to do about them.

We identified many local challenges. To do practical planning about what to do about them, we clustered them into four main categories:

  1. Systems and policies that make self-directed support hard, don’t help to make it happen.
  2. Local professional and managerial cultures (taking back control/deficit model).
  3. Knowledge (system, law, rules, possibilities etc.).
  4. Confidence, skills and support (of people and families.

In each of these categories we then asked people to think about what could help. They listed lots of practical things that they felt could shift the barriers and help people self-direct their support.


Next we asked people to think about 2 things:

  1. What can I do/offer to help?
  2. What could we ask other people or groups to do/offer to help?

This gave us a long list of things that the people present could offer – knowledge, skills, capacity, personal support etc. It also started to identify things that people and organisations not in the room might be able to offer – giving us a list to follow up.

Next steps
We ended the meeting with a practical plan for action. We’re all doing this on a voluntary basis, so don’t have massive resources, but felt that a “Jacob’s Join” approach, where everyone can bring something, was the way to start. First steps therefore were:

  1. Set up a facebook page for people to start to connect and share.
  2. Follow up the offers people made so others can know more about them.
  3. Approach the groups and people outside the room that we identified and ask if they can help.
  4. Set up an initial webinar programme on the areas we identified as challenging, to share information and solutions.
  5. Meet again in November at the #socialcarefuture gathering.

These first steps will all be in place by spring 2018.

For more information contact Martin Routledge at:

Read the notes from December’s meeting here.