We are committed to supporting people to look forward to mental wellbeing with recovery focused support. 


Self directed support (SDS) became law on 1 April 2014 and we believe it gives people more choice, control and the empowerment to live the lives they want to live.

SDS allows people, their carers and their families to make informed choices on what their support looks like and how it is delivered, making it possible to meet agreed personal outcomes.

Looking for support through SDS?

Contact us

Steps to gettings SDS

This section provides information on the steps required to access SDS and the support and information available to you.


  • I need support
    You decide you need support. Or, sometimes, a friend or relative will suggest that you contact social services to ask about support

  • First contact

    You need to contact your local social work services.  If you already use a Penumbra service, we can contact them on your behalf

  • Eligibilty & assessment
    Your local social work service check if you can get support

  • Support planning
    If you pick Penumbra as your provider, we will produce a plan for how you can be supported

  • Agreeing the final plan
    We will agree the final support plan with you, to make sure you are happy and getting all the support you need

  • Support
    We follow the plan and you get the support you need

  • Review
    After a set time there will be a review to check if your needs have changed


How Neil used SDS


“I was diagnosed bipolar in 1981, at the age of 29” says Neil. “Since then, apart from a spell of 13 years on the level, I have made more visits to hospital than I care to remember.” 

During 2012 and 2013 Neil spent a lot of time in hospital. “It almost seemed that he would never get better” Eleanor, Neil’s wife, explains. “All interventions and multiple drug routines did not bring him out of his depression.” 

“We were more or less told that there was nothing else could be done”

Eleanor, Neil’s wife
Neil’s visits to hospital were usually compulsory, under section. “We were more or less told that there was nothing else could be done” explains Eleanor. 

During one of the ever-familiar pre-discharge meetings, a social worker handed Neil and Eleanor some information about self directed support (SDS) – a new way of delivering support that gives people more choice and control. 


“It is reassuring”, explains Eleanor, that “I feel confident that my husband is respected, safe and empowered to do what he wants to do.” 

Neil had already been involved with Penumbra now and again over the years and he had developed a good relationship with Dave, a Penumbra support worker. Through SDS Neil was able to choose the service he wanted and to set his own priorities for support. 

Neil was clear on his goals – he wanted to maintain his independence and build his confidence after an extensive stay in hospital. Rather than a ‘one size fits all’ service, SDS meant Neil’s support could be flexible. It gave him the opportunity to live a fulfilling life. 

Neil has been able to visit the cinema, cafes, restaurants, art exhibitions and enjoy ordinary community events. And he is working on his personal outcomes and goals every step of the way, safe in the knowledge support can be tailored around him. 

“Neil has not been admitted to hospital since his last discharge around a year ago, when his SDS package began”

Dave, Penumbra
“Neil has not been admitted to hospital since his last discharge around a year ago, when his SDS package began” explains his support worker Dave. “As someone who supported Neil throughout 2012/13, I have witnessed an immense transformation, even though symptoms persist”.

Crucially, Dave says, “[Neil] perceives a vast improvement and feels he has more control”. Through SDS Neil has gained more control over his journey to recovery and increased his hope for the future. “This support has participated in bringing us (Neil and Eleanor) together” says Neil.  

Contact us to find out more about SDS