As the Chief Social Worker for Adults I have a deep interest in making sure the Government’s Autism Strategy is a practical and effective reality.
We all know that getting the right support at the right time is crucial for autistic people. Along with the statutory guidance that underpins it, the Autism Act 2009 emphasises our obligations as social care professionals to provide the best support we can.
Making sure adults living with autism receive a good and thorough assessment of their social care needs begins with understanding their strengths, hopes and what matters most to them. This approach is vital - how else can the right support be unlocked?
A survey of councils in 2016 revealed that fewer councils than expected have autism training plans in place. Of particular concern for social workers is the indication that not enough of us are receiving the specialist education on autism we need to carry out high quality assessments.
To address this shortfall, a cross-sector partnership, supported by the Department of Health and Social Care, has created a new guide for councils.
Collaborators include the National Autistic Society, the Autism Alliance UK, the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, alongside social workers and, most importantly, autistic people.
The guide is based on councils’ experiences of providing training and it supports staff in carrying out social care needs assessments. Many councils in England have done great work in making sure their staff understand autism. It’s important that we share this work with others across the care and support sector.
I know that money is tight in many councils, but when Kent rolled out a new model of staff training and support for autistic adults, they achieved large savings which can be put to good use supporting others.
And we all know that getting things right first time is not only the most cost-effective way, but also leads to the best outcomes for the people we support.
I strongly urge you to read this new guide. Visit the National Autistic Society for more information, including some invaluable resources for you and your colleagues to use and share within and between your organisations.