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Supporting autistic people in North Yorkshire

Melanie Trotter is the Autism Strategic and Development Officer for North Yorkshire Council. Here she discusses the council’s journey to achieving Autism Accreditation for all its adult support services, including the creation of Autism Champions. 

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Author: Melanie Trotter

Supporting autistic people in North Yorkshire

In November 2013 North Yorkshire County Council, motivated by the Think Autism strategy, took the strategic decision to register all of its Adult Support provisions with the National Autistic Society’s Autism Accreditation service in order to deliver an autism focus and structured change across the county.
 
This was the largest cohort of adult services that the Accreditation had worked alongside on a national level, covering:
 
  • day care
  • respite services
  • supported living
  • residential 
  • supported employment.
 
North Yorkshire Adult Services worked hard to develop and embed autism practice within their services and used effective meaningful adaptations and tools to ensure and improve the quality of life for the autistic people they support. These adaptations were focussed on individuals needs and included:
 
  • communication styles
  • use of imagination and flexible thinking
  • levels of interaction
  • sensory needs
  • behavioural support. 
 
Three autism and employment drop-in sessions have been set up across the county and autistic people can access specialist counselling services to support them into employment.
 
Staff working within older people’s services receive autism training to ensure autism is recognised, understood and responded to by means of meaningful adaptations and adjustments. 
 
‘Joint working across services has improved, ensuring a holistic and consistent framework for the individuals we support.’
 
‘All of our staff’s autism knowledge has reached new depths beyond the basic awareness they had.  Staff feel more confident in providing personalised support to meet individual need.’
 
Autism Champions
 
As part of the accreditation process North Yorkshire has also created 60 Autism Champions roles within the County Council. Each Champion receives bespoke autism training, and their role and responsibilities currently include:
 
  • advice to other staff in their team who may have queries about cases where autism is a factor
  • signposting staff to autism-specific resources that are available
  • acting as a conduit between team members and specialist autism workers to refer any particularly challenging cases for more in-depth guidance. 
  • bringing autism to the attention of their teams on a regular basis
 
Outcomes
 
In May 2016 all adult services were awarded Autism Accreditation status, and the process has supported service wide improvement during financially difficult times in social care. Some of the benefits we have seen are:
 
  • more knowledgeable and confident staff 
  • more informed employment support for autistic people
  • better relationships with families
  • more effective transition planning 
  • increased number of referrals
  • contact with people in the wider community 
  • a shared culture and approach with education providers when supporting students through transition 
 
Further information
The National Autistic Society provides an autism-specific quality assurance programme for a vast range of services and organisations. For more information please visit their website.
 
Date added: 26 July 2017