Are you fed up with 'Professionals' deciding what support you need? Would you like to be more in control over the way you live your life? Do you believe that EVERYONE is entitled to make choices about their own life?
If any of the above rings true for you, then maybe Self Directed Support could be a way forward…….

What is Self Directed Support (SDS)?
Self Directed Support aims to help people stay independent, safe and well. It is a new way for you to get the support you need to get on with your life. It gives people more choice over the way they live their lives. For more information about Self Directed Support visit: and the Croydon Website: The Croydon Independent Support Brokerage Service (a partnership between Croydon Council and a consortium of voluntary organisations) works with service users who qualify for SDS (see below to find out if you could qualify for SDS) to find out about their individual hopes and dreams and support the person to come up with a plan for spending and managing their money (a budget awarded to the service user by social services).

Eric Nash is a Service User and a member of Hear Us (Croydon’s Mental Health User Group). In the account below Eric shares his experience of SDS and working with Nichola (one of the Support Brokers)

“My Personal Experience of using the Croydon Support Brokers (CISBS) to get the support I feel I need, my way”.

1. How did you hear about Self Directed Support?
The Care Manager at Purley Resource Centre (CMHT) and my CPN (care coordinator) - talked to me about it. My team find it difficult to get the right kind of care for me; they thought that if I was able to have more input and 'buy' in my own care package, it could have a more lasting effect than treatment that involves being TOLD what to do.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I have been with the mental health services since the age of 15 and I am now 44 years old. I have always been told my issues and problems stem from the past (childhood) and I can’t get closure to them. I have used all the traditional methods: hospital admissions, psychiatrists, CMHT’s, medication (lots of medication!), all of which have helped to a degree, but none of which have really been targeted at me, or taken account of my full needs (as a person, not just a mental health diagnosis) TILL NOW. They (the Mental Health Professionals) don’t really know what to diagnose me with. I’ve been through many different ‘cocktails’ of medication, depending on which ‘diagnosis’ I have been given at that time. I am now as confused as anyone! These days when I turn up to see my psychiatrist, it’s like “So, what is my diagnosis today doc?!!!” I felt so alone in my own space and was really fed up. I’d spent so many years battling my demons with the support of traditional services, (they help to a degree, but don/t get to the nitty gritty; i.e. they just help to keep me afloat; although psychotherapy was extremely useful in helping me to deal with some of my issues). Then I heard about Self Directed Support (SDS) and thought

This could probably be one of the only chances I have of reaching 45!

3. So now you are a Pioneer for Self Directed Support!
I am my care coordinator's first candidate for SDS, as well as being the first Service User from Purley CMHT (Community Mental Health Team) to try SDS on the grounds of mental health. My CPN sold the idea of SDS to me as: “My chance to make real changes to my treatment by receiving a set amount of money to spend as I want, in ways that I feel will help me most”. SDS means that I can choose my own care; care that will be relevant to ME, (whatever my diagnosis). For example, the worst time of the day for me is the evenings – CMHT’s don’t cover these hours, and I end up going to A&E, waiting for 5 hours, only to sit with someone for 5 minutes while they talk at me before sending me on my merry way! With SDS, I have been allocated a budget, and I can use this money how I want to, in ways that I feel will support me best. I can be as creative as I like, and really think outside the box (i.e. outside of traditional services). For example, I think it would help me to have someone to stay over at my house during the night sometimes. I suffer from serious nightmares and the nighttimes are especially bad for rumination. I would also like to have someone to come on holiday with me, both as a companion and for support. With SDS, this could be possible. Other support might include having someone to come over for a chat once a week.

4. So how does SDS actually work?
My CPN introduced the idea of Self Directed Support to me She then requested the relevant paperwork for us to fill out together. About a week later the forms arrived. Since SDS was a new concept for my CPN as well as for me, we learnt about it together! From the information my CPN and I provided, it was then decided how much money I would get per week. (Known as the Indicative Budget) Next I was told I would have to produce a presentation of my plan (how I intend to ‘spend’ the money) to go to ‘panel’ who would then agree or

disagree my plan.

5. This is where the Support Brokerage Service comes in?
Yes. My care coordinator arranged for a Support Broker, Nichola, to meet with us. It was an amazing breath of fresh air to meet someone so enthusiastic and excited about the help they were offering. Her vivaciousness kept me in my seat (I am easily bored!). She was bubbly, impressive and very informative at the same time. She kept me interested and now Nicola and I are working on my presentation together. I’ve met with Nicola twice now. During our first meeting we went through another presentation done by an anonymous service user, to show me how to build up a presentation for the Panel. To decide on my care and support, we discussed what I would like, what I would not like, what helps me and what doesn’t etc. I have thoroughly enjoyed doing the presentation with Nichola. Being able to use graphics, slides, pictures, voices, video sessions round Croydon etc, to represent what I like, what I don’t, what I need, what I enjoy – and finally adding music to my presentation – all my choices. My presentation will now go to panel who will look at my presentation, and (hopefully) agree to give me the money to pay for the care and support as laid out in my support plan.

6. And what happens next?
The money gets paid into a separate bank account. I will be in charge of the money. It is a bit daunting to be in charge of my own money but this is my own choice. Some service users may choose to have their money managed by other people. I will also be employing the people I choose to support me, care workers etc. Not SLaM, or other agencies – I will be doing all the employing myself. I get to interview people myself. This way I'll be able to see if there is a connection between me and them i.e. basically, whether or not we will get on together. I have done this a lot in my career.

7. What changes do you think this will make to your life?
My whole team is excited, which is infectious – it is new and I like new things. I hope that SDS will give me more stability. I will be getting the care I NEED when I NEED IT MOST.

8. What would you say to other Service Users who might be considering Self Directed Support?
Be prepared to give it a go – you have got nothing to lose. I am excited and want to spread the news as far and wide as possible

9. Do you have any worries or concerns about SDS?
I worry that I might lose the traditional support I currently receive. Also, I feel slightly daunted about the responsibility of being my own employer etc, managing the budget, dealing with tax returns etc. (NB: If YOU decide NOT to manage your own money you can ask

Croydon Council to manage your budget and arrange services for you. You could also nominate a representative who you know and trust well such as a family member or friend. There is also lots of support for people who want to manage their budget independently from the Direct Payment Support Service:
Direct Payments Support Service: Tel: 020 8684 5538

“SDS allows people to take full control over their support needs. People can choose to continue with their existing support or use their personal budget for other types of services, such as going out on day trips rather than attend day centres. A person can choose to continue to have services provided for them through their care coordinator or take control of their budget via direct payment or have a combination of the two. A personal budget is allocated according to your needs, taking in to account the type and impact of that need to a persons independence. Not all needs would be eligible for a personal budget”. Affy Wajid SDS Operations Manager 13th Floor (South) Taberner House ext 63645

What the Support Broker said…………………
NICHOLA HARRIS Independent Support Broker: As a Broker part of our role is to assist clients in creating their own support plan. This can be very different from one person to another. Not all our Support Plans are created in the same format (e.g. pictorial, PowerPoint), it is entirely the choice of the individual. However in this particular case the client wanted their plan very visual. Using the Person Centred Planning Approach this included the implementation of PowerPoint slides, images, videos and music to give the client the opportunity to explore their needs and interests in a holistic and creative way. This client chose to come to our office to put their own plan together, (this arrangement suited both broker and client). Creating a support plan can vary from person to person but with this particular client it involved four meetings including going out and filming their favorite coffee place. Being taken on this personal journey with someone was a very refreshing, rewarding and an interesting and unique experience for me. To see the motivation, enthusiasm, and commitment from my client who generally seemed excited about what the future may hold, and a life changing experience for them, can only be a positive thing.

Nichola has had several years experience working alongside adults with mental health problems within various voluntary organisations in Croydon. To learn more about Nichola and the other Support Brokers, you can view their profiles by visiting their website. or contacting the Support Brokers:

How do I find out if I can apply for Self Directed Support?
NB: SDS will not suit everyone and not everybody is eligible. To find out whether or not you can apply for SDS: Speak to your care coordinator if you have one Ask your GP to refer you to your Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) Contact Croydon Social Services, Department of Adult Services and Housing, Tel: 020 8726 6500, E-mail:

CROYDON INDEPENDENT SUPPORT BROKERAGE Address: CISBS Orchard House 15a Purley Road South Croydon CR2 6EZ 020 8253 8210

Tel: Email:

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