Augusta Care supports adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Following the 'I exist' campaign there have been many developments in this area of our work. In response to the fact that April is Autism Awareness Month, the 2nd of April, World Autism Awareness Day, we are naturally even more focused on the support we give to people with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
It is incredibly important that we stay up to date with the latest information. In order to meet the individual needs of the people we support, training is an ongoing activity for Augusta Care team members. During April some staff attended training related to the Adult Autism Strategy, the new Government legislation about how to support people affected by Autism. Here is an overview of the 'I Exist' campaign, the Adult Autism Strategy, and most importantly, what we at Augusta Care are doing in response to these developments.
The 'I Exist' Campaign
Launched in February 2008, the campaign was based on a survey of over 1,400 adults with Autism, parents and carers; interviews with adults with Autism; and surveys of Primary Care Trusts. It highlighted some worrying results:
- Only 15% of adults with Autism have a full-time paid job
- 63% of adults with Autism do not have the support to meet their needs
- 33% of adults with Autism have experienced severe mental health problems due to a lack of support
The campaign highlighted the significant gap between the real needs of people with Autism Spectrum Disorder and what support is actually provided. Based on our experience, we know that much needs to be done to provide more understanding of, and support for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Making sure people with Autism Spectrum Disorder are not excluded through lack of awareness and systems in health care, education, places of work, and in local communities, are key areas that need addressing.
The Autism Strategy
The Autism Strategy is a direct outcome of the 'I exist' campaign. The campaign resulted in the Autism Act 2009. The Autism Strategy which followed in March 2010, outlines the action the Government is leading to make positive changes. The main actions highlighted in the Autism Strategy for England are focused on:
- Increasing awareness and understanding
- Improving diagnosis
- Improve access to services and support to enable independent living
- Encouraging local partnerships
Augusta Care's actions
Keen to lead the way, address these issues and make any improvements we can, the first step was to attend related training put on by Cambridgeshire County Council. We have now highlighted what actions we are going to take:
- An Augusta Care steering group has already been set up. The group is made up of people from within Augusta Care who have expertise, a background in, and/or a special interest in, Autism Spectrum Disorder. The steering group is designed to influence how Augusta Care is to develop its support and service provision for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
- We're specifically looking at ways to create employment opportunities for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Asperger's.
- We know that awareness is a key issue, so the Augusta Care team is looking at what we can do to increase awareness within our local community, to reduce related isolation and incidents.
- We are going to invite more guest speakers to team meetings so those with the right expertise can inform, educate and raise awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorder, thus spreading knowledge internally.
- We're passionate about Personalised Technology, so we're looking at how we can increase awareness of Apps that can help support adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. You can read our blog about 'How Personalised Technology can improve the lives of people with learning disabilities'.
- Listening to the adults we support who have Autism Spectrum Disorder is essential. Their story is key in the direction we take as a company, and in building awareness. Sharing real stories from those willing to share them will help us educate others about Autism Spectrum Disorder.
- How living spaces are designed is very important to people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, so we'll be making key environmental changes and improvements where necessary.
Following the training, there might seem to be plenty to do! But it's exciting to have the opportunity for members of our team to become more knowledgeable, and to give them the opportunity to drive necessary change. We aim to lead in the provision of support for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. That means being open to learning, and then taking action.
What do you think about the actions we are taking? Is there anything else you would suggest we can do?