SDS Network

Leading the global development of self-directed support

Self-Directed Support (SDS) means organising help and assistance so that people who need help are able to live with freedom and are included as full and valued citizens within the community. There has been significant global progress towards SDS in Long-Term Care and Support (LTCS) since 1965. 

However progress has been slow, patchy and there are still many negative forces that undermine human rights for people who need (LTCS). In order to advance progress in SDS and better address the problems we face we have established the SDS Network in order to:

  1. Understand progress on SDS globally
  2. Clarify key terms and standards
  3. Set out key principles of good SDS
  4. Identity good practice and obstacles to progress
  5. Share information across the whole community
  6. Support ongoing network development globally
  7. Support advocacy locally, nationally and globally

Background to the Network

The SDS Network has been developed over the past seven years following the Claiming Full Citizenship Conference in Vancouver in 2015. Following this conference Citizen Network was established with the broad mission of creating a world where everyone matters and it was launched at the Manawanui International Conference in 2016.

At the same time KVPS in Finland began to support both the development of Self-Directed Support in Finland and to work with European partners, including the European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) to create a movement for the development of SDS across Europe. This work also led to the development of the pan-European UNIC project which has set out detailed guidance on the development of systems for self-direction.

Working together many different groups with expertise and commitment to advancing SDS globally have come together to form the SDS Network. There are still many challenges ahead and the network will have to grow and evolve as we learn better how to achieve our aims and stay committed to human rights, inclusion and citizenship for all.

Initial Governance

The founding governance for the SDS Network reflects the ongoing commitment of many individuals and organisations to create the network and the need to reflect the global growth of SDS in a balanced way. The initial governance will be based on countries and continental regions:

Asia-Pacific Region

Europe-Africa Region

Americas Region


This governance will need to evolve over time. We will need sub-networks both to include other countries and to focus on particular issues. It will also be very important to reflect on two important constraints:

The current network is primarily a professional expertise-based network, drawing together people who have spent decades of time working on improving social systems. However this is only one kind of expertise and the lived expertise and voices of people who use LTCS become central to the development of the network. There must be an active strategy to work in partnership with all the relevant advocacy groups if possible.

The current network is overwhelmingly rooted in the global North; important work will be necessary to grow connections with the global South and to learn from people in other countries, with different contexts and histories. There must be no assumption that Northern models are best.

Next steps

The SDS Network will be developing a plan of action in the coming months, visit the SDS Network website here.

You can contact members of the Board of SDS Network through the profile links below. 

And, check out the large variety of free resources on Self-Directed Support in our Citizen Network library here.


September 2023The Global Standards for Self-Directed Support have now been published and are also available in Easy Read here.

If you'd like to get involved please join our growing network at:

Bevin Croft


Senior Research Associate and Director of the Behavioral Health team at the Human Services Research Institute

Chris Watson


Founder of Self Directed Futures

Simon Duffy


President of Citizen Network

Tim Stainton


Co-Director of the Centre for Inclusion and Citizenship & joint coordinator of Citizen Network Canada

Also see