Foundations for self-directed support in Scotland
Foundations for self-directed support in Scotland

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Foundations for self-directed support in Scotland

Risk enablement and capacity

As you have seen, balancing people’s rights to choice and control against the risk of harm when people have impaired decision-making capacity is complex. The challenges posed can also create another risk — that some groups of people, for example those with learning disabilities, dementia, or other mental health problems, may be excluded from the benefits of personalisation initiatives like self-directed support.

However, this does not have to be the case, as this example from Alzheimer Scotland featuring Michael and Mary’s story, ‘How self-directed support worked for us shows:

‘Risk enablement: thinking outside the box’ [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

Michael and Mary’s story explains how self-directed support can work well for people with dementia. Their example shows how SDS can work with people with dementia, carers and people who support individuals with dementia, its ideas are equally relevant to other people in society.

Yet it is wiser to remember that risk is ‘a matter of balance’ – risks have potentially beneficial and potentially harmful outcomes, and sometimes both

Activity 4.6 Benefits and risks of employing a personal assistant

Timing: (30 minutes)

Risk in relation to self-directed support is often raised in relation to the employment of personal assistants (or PAs). The next activity will explore the risks and benefits of employing someone to provide support.

Try to identify some of the risks and benefits for someone who chooses to employ their own personal assistant (PA). Use the document below to record your thoughts, and include the document in your learning log .

Risks and benefits

When you’ve finished, compare your notes with those listed in the discussion.


The responses listed in the document below are not all the possible responses – you may have thought of other risks and benefits. The balance of risks and benefits will depend on the individual person and what outcomes they are aiming to achieve.

Risks and benefits: possible responses


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