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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health): 12th March, 2012

 

Report of the Director of Social Services

 

Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Community Monitoring and Support Project

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To provide Members with an update on the Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Community Monitoring and Support Pilot Project and to outline plans for further development.

Recommendation

1.             That the work being undertaken by the ASD Community Support Project Workers is noted and endorsed.

Reason for Recommendation

1.             To enable Members to exercise oversight of an important new service.

Background

2.             In 2009, a Task and Finish Group sponsored by the Welsh Assembly Government issued a report recognising that service provision for adults with ASD in Wales can be 'patchy'.  Subsequently, local authorities across Wales were invited to bid for grant funding to be used in establishing a "low-level" information and advice service for adults with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) or Asperger's Syndrome (AS).

3.             The Vale of Glamorgan Council applied for funding to establish a Community Monitoring and Support project, across part of the South East Wales Region.  This was agreed by the Welsh Government in April 2011 and the funding has been allocated indicatively until March 2014.  Pilot projects have been established across other Welsh local authority areas, using a variety of service delivery models.

4.             The funding has been allocated specifically for adults with HFA or AS who are:

  • at risk of social isolation;
  • vulnerable to mental ill health, including suicide;
  • currently not accessing, or not eligible to access, statutory services and traditional support systems.

5.             The Council is employing two ASD Community Project Workers to establish and deliver the service across four local authority areas within the South East Wales Region - the Vale of Glamorgan; Cardiff; Rhondda Cynon Taff and Merthyr Tydfil.  The service started in January 2012.  The official launch will be held in Barry Memorial Hall on 15th March.

6.             To allow for clear marketing and effective advertising, the project established in the Vale of Glamorgan has been branded as an 'Adult Autism Advice Service'.  The key aims of the Adult Autism Advice Service are:

  • to provide adults with HFA/AS a clear point of contact for information and advice;
  • to ensure that adults with HFA/AS who are eligible to access statutory support are re-directed to existing services;
  • to signpost adults with HFA/AS who do not meet the criteria to access statutory services to appropriate services located in their communities;
  • to reduce the risk of crisis and to help prevent enduring mental health problems by encouraging socialisation and directing individuals to social groups, local events and activities; and
  • to profile any unmet need and highlight any gaps in provision which can then be relayed to local steering groups and the Welsh Government for consideration.

7.             The service is now operating within the Vale of Glamorgan and it will be rolled out across the other three local authority areas this Spring. 

Relevant Issues and Options

8.             The Adult Autism Advice Service has been specifically designed for:

  • adults with HFA/AS;
  • adults without a formal diagnosis of HFA/AS but who have difficulty with social communication;
  • parents and family members; and
  • carers and professionals.

9.             Although the target group are adults, the service recognises that young people who are making the transition to adulthood should eligible to receive information and advice, where appropriate.  

10.        People can contact the service in a variety of ways, including by telephone, through on-line engagement or in face-to-face meetings.  On initial contact, service users are required to complete a registration document and a consent form.

11.        The service aims to promote the independence and autonomy of adults with HFA/AS.  Therefore, it has not been designed to provide long-term, ongoing support but to help people to access the services to which they are entitled and facilitate direct communication between the service user and relevant sources of help.  The service will act as a focal contact point for adults with HFA/AS and the Community Support Project Workers can assist individuals in achieving specific goals or acquiring skills to help them to live autonomously.  People will be offered face-to-face meetings, available by appointment, within an existing local authority base.

12.        Details of all service enquiries will be logged by the Community Support Project Workers.  Data on enquiry types and information on any gaps in service provision will be reported back to the Local Steering Groups and to Welsh Government.  Local Steering Groups will then consider any areas of unmet need or gaps in service provision as part of their respective local authority action plans. 

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment and Climate Change, if appropriate)

13.        Two ASD Community Support Project Workers will deliver the service across the four local authority areas.  The posts are for 22.5 hours a week, which will enable a physical presence in each local authority area for up to 1.5 days a week.  In order to maximise access to the service across all the areas, the project will make use of information technology.  This will ensure that, wherever a Support Worker is located, enquiries can be received from all areas covered.

14.        The Welsh Government has provided a grant of £40,000 for 2011/2012, with the usual arrangements in place for monitoring expenditure.  The indicative grant allocation for 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 is £40,000 per year.  Confirmation will be subject to:

  • future formal approval by the Welsh Government of its indicative budgets;
  • compliance with the terms and conditions of the grant offer; and
  • satisfactory performance in the previous year.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

15.        There are no legal implications as a direct result of this report.

Crime and Disorder Implications

16.        As people with HFA/AS have social communication difficulties, those who come into contact with the police can be at risk of being misunderstood.  The service hopes to help raise public awareness about how these individuals are best supported and also to signpost them to existing forms of help such as Emergency Services Card/Autism Alert Card, to overcome these barriers.

17.        People with HFA/AS can be at greater risk of falling victim to deception or manipulation.  In establishing a local source of advice and information, it is hoped that this risk can be reduced.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

18.        The Service has been established to ensure that adults with HFA/AS are afforded the same opportunities in carrying out their daily life as others.  Marketing materials for the service are also available in Welsh.

Corporate/Service Objectives

19.        The key objective of the Council addressed by this report is "To make the Vale a safe and healthy place in which individuals, children and families can live their lives to the full".

Policy Framework and Budget

20.        The report is in accordance with the Council's policy framework and budget.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

21.        No local Ward Member consultation has been undertaken as this is a Vale-wide initiative.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

22.        Social Care and Health

Background Papers

Welsh Assembly Government Strategic Action Plan for Wales (2008)

Welsh Assembly Government Adult Task and Finish Group Report (2010)

 

Contact Officer

Lance Carver, Head of Adult Services and Locality manager for the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board

 

Officers Consulted

None.

 

Responsible Officer

Philip Evans, Director of Social Services.

 

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