What we do and how we do it

Increasingly we've had people from areas outside London ask us 'why isn't there anything like this where I am?' 

So as an independent network of people who deal with frontline issues in self-directed support in both social and health care we're offering to share our experience of running the Forum with people in other areas of the country.

We can:

  • Lead a session describing the Forum and its strengths and explore how you could do similarly your area
  • Lead a technical session for organisations that support people who employ personal assistants (PAs) on some of the practical issues PA employers face.
  • Facilitate a half-day event, adding external speakers to the sessions above, exploring areas of practical expertise, tailoring it to your area and the particular issues you face.

We’ve been running for over 20 years, largely through volunteers whose own everyday work is in self directed support. We have built up considerable expertise and experience in running events, keeping up to date with developing issues and maintaining a lively programme of topics and speakers. As an independent network, we’re proud of our ability to question and highlight issues that our practical expertise tells us aren’t necessarily going to plan and then try to find solutions.

We will not override local expertise. On the contrary, having seen the benefit of meeting regularly to discuss, network and learn we’d like to support existing services to work better together.

If this is something you would be interested in, please contact Peter Gay at the London SDS Forum by emailing 

PAs needed for research project

Personal Assistants are a growing part of the social care workforce in England but very little is really known about them as a group - data in the National Minimum Data Set for Social Care (NMDS-SC) is based on estimates.

However, research that’s being carried out at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit at King’s College London aims to change this.  John Woolham, who works there as a Senior Research Fellow, is leading a study that aims to describe the characteristics of the PA workforce – the backgrounds and motivations of PAs, what their role involves, the terms and conditions of their employment, their perceptions and experiences of their job and the links they may have (or not have) with the wider social care, or health, workforce.

They want to interview 100 PAs across England – in person or by phone. They will offer travel expenses and £20 each to recognise people’s time and trouble. Interviews are confidential.

If you work as a Personal Assistant, think this study is worth doing and might be interested in taking part, please email John directly at .  He can also be reached by phone on 0207 848 8599 – but it’s usually best to email in the first instance because he works from home quite a lot. 

Please do forward the attached information to PAs and PA employers that you are in contact with. 

Useful Downloads: 

"It ain't what you do...." - conference report published

On 15th July the Forum brought together experts on self-directed support with disabled people and families who use direct payments from across London. In particular they were wanting to explore some of the inflexibilities and problems that are holding back full progress within self-directed support. 

This report brings together some of the key findings of the report with the talks, discussion and the results of a poll carried out on the day.

Authors: Simon Duffy, Pat Stack and Peter Gay

With thanks to Ellen Clifford, John Evans, Jane Mawer, Lizzie McCulloch, Ossie Stuart, Steven Pruner and Geoff Smith and all who attended the conference.

Useful Downloads: 

Direct Payments survey

In discussions at Forum meetings many of you have told us that it would be really helpful to get a good picture of some basic direct payment practice issues across London, in both social and health care. One of our objectives is "accurately reflecting the reality of provision of Self-Direct Support" so we wanted to help.

We couldn't find this information easily available so we've asking you, people working in social and health care. We've put together a simple survey from some of the questions our members were asking. It doesn't cover everything - we wanted to keep it manageable for respondents! But it's a start. To make the most of your time completing the survey and the information we gather from it, we'll share an analysis with not only our members but also regional agencies in both health and social care - Skills for Care, London ADASS and the Healthy London Partnership.

As an independent body we want you to feel able to tell us honestly what's happening - the things that aren't working as well as the good things. We know it can be difficult to tell the whole story within your organisation or in an open meeting. We're made up of statutory, voluntary, private and independent sector members and the Forum has no allegiances. We favour only a clear and robust system of health and social care.

We have asked in which borough you are working because we want to get answers from across the whole of London. Please answer this if you feel able to - we will not link your answers to the location, or identify you in any way. It's very important to us to protect all respondents including our members.

We'd like as many people to answer our survey as possible - the more responses we get the more informative it is. Anyone working in health or social care in London can complete it and it should take only 5 minutes for most people. If you've done the survey yourself please do pass it on to people you know in neighbouring boroughs or in health care rather than social care.

Thank you.




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