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

5.10 Different roles: Brokerage

We now return to thinking about personalisation in relation to adults and children

Figure 5.11: Personalisation involves individuals, families and communities

When we are thinking about this new landscape of personalisation we also should remember that personalisation in its broadest sense is not only about meeting individual outcomes but also about how citizens are connected to, and derive support from, wider social networks: family, friends and their communities. This way of looking at people's support needs is already well embedded in the Scottish Government's approach to children and families, Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) (Scottish Government, 2012).

Professionals, such as social workers, nurses, doctors, support workers and teachers all have important roles to play in personalisation. As we have seen they, like service users, bring important expertise that may be crucial to making personalisation work in practice. However, professionals provide just one source of support amongst many others, including support from:

  • families
  • friends
  • people with similar experiences
  • members of the community
  • organisations that provide advice and information.

Section 2 [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] of this course explores the importance of community capacity, social networks and social capital in relation to personalisation and co-production.

The next two activities provide an opportunity to find out about two aspects of self-directed support that are receiving increasing attention as we move towards more personalised services: community brokerage and advocacy.


The Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013 is bringing about radical changes in the way that support services are commissioned and delivered. Many more people are likely to become budget holders and need information about what self-directed support means for them, and support to explore what the options are for them and their families. Existing services, such as health and social work will undoubtedly have a role here, but there is a wealth of other resources available too, in people's communities.

A 'broker' is someone (or an organisation) that arranges transactions between a buyer and a seller. So, a 'stockbroker', for example, will act as a go-between between people and organisations that want to buy and sell stocks and shares. In relation to self-directed support, brokerage (or 'support brokerage') is about helping people to understand the range of options available to them, and enabling people to plan their support. The broker's role includes finding creative ways to use budgets, whilst trying to make the budget stretch as far as it can. The extent to which brokerage will become a significant aspect of care and support in Scotland is unclear, and different organisations may have varying perspectives about this.

Activity 5.7 Support brokerage

Timing: (20 minutes)

Read this short fact sheet produced by In Control about support brokerage:

Then note down in your learning log your answers to the questions below:

  1. Who can act as a support broker?
  2. Write a list of examples of roles that a support broker might take on.


You will have seen that a very wide range of people can act as brokers. Some are paid professionals, such as social workers or independent professionals, but support brokerage can also be provided by local support networks, family and friends. The key thing is that the supported person must trust the person who is going to act as their broker.

In Scotland there is a network for community brokerage : The Community Brokerage Network . Community brokerage helps people to identify what's available locally and helps them link in to the support they need to meet their goals. Community brokerage schemes also enable people to connect with other people in the community for peer advice and support.

You will have seen that brokerage can involve a range of activities from getting information, being signposted to sources of help and talking through different options, to getting help to make and manage support plans. Different people will need different amounts of help - some people will be able to direct their support without help, or maybe just with the support of family or friends, whereas others may need more help. Some people may want to draw on a range of different kinds of local support, which is where community brokerage comes in. Community brokerage is essentially an example of co-production – delivering services in an equal and reciprocal relationship, and has the potential to increase social capital and community capacity (see also Section 2 ).


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