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Agenda Item No. 8

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health): 3rd November, 2014

 

Report of the Director of Social Services

 

Autistic Spectrum Disorder: 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 Project and to outline future actions to be undertaken as part of the project.

Recommendations

1.         That the work being undertaken by the Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Community Monitoring and Support Project is noted.

2.         That Scrutiny Committee receives annual updates on the work of the project.

Reason for the Recommendations

1&2. To keep Members appraised of the work of the ASD Community Monitoring and Support Project.

 

Background

2.         In 2009, an Adult Task and Finish Group established by the Welsh Government issued a report describing significant inconsistencies across Wales in services provided to adults with ASD.  As a consequence, local authorities were given the opportunity to bid for grant funding.  In partnership with Cardiff, 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 Welsh Government in April 2011, indicatively until March 2015.

3.         The funding has been allocated specifically for providing a service to adults with high functioning autism and Asperger's syndrome who are at risk of social isolation or vulnerable to mental ill health and who, currently, are not able to access or not eligible to access statutory services.  It enabled this Council to employ three part time Community Project Workers with responsibility for establishing and delivering the service across the Vale of Glamorgan, Cardiff, Rhondda Cynon Taff and Merthyr Tydfil.

4.         The service offers short-term, targeted intervention which promotes the independence and autonomy of adults with high functioning autism and Asperger's syndrome by:

·         providing them with a clear point of contact for information and advice;

·         ensuring that those who are eligible for statutory support are re-directed to existing services.

·         signposting those who do not meet the eligibility criteria for statutory social services to appropriate services located in their communities;

·         reducing the risk of crisis and helping to prevent enduring mental health problems by encouraging socialisation and directing individuals to social groups, local events and activities; and

·         profiling any unmet need and highlighting any gaps in provision which can then be relayed to local steering groups and to the Welsh Government for consideration.

Relevant Issues and Options

5.         Access to the service is via telephone, on-line engagement, face-to-face meetings or by referral from partner agencies.  To date, 1204 separate enquiries have been received.  Some are simple requests for information while others result in multiple contacts over extended periods, depending on need.

6.         Enquiries cover a wide variety of issues, from people seeking information on obtaining an assessment/ diagnosis of ASD to those wishing to access support groups and social skills training, benefits advice and signposting.  A graph to show the number and types of enquiries our Service has received and recorded to date can be found at Appendix A.

7.         The key performance indicator for the service is that individuals feel less isolated and receive support to help them live independent lives.  A number of case examples are outlined at Appendix B.  Some clients have advised us that they find comfort in knowing that the service is there should a need arise.  Others have used the service to ascertain future steps and to work through problems they are experiencing; typically, such enquiries can result in effective signposting to existing services in the community.  The service is effective in preventing and delaying the need for more extensive care and support.  It also reduces the impact of their disability.  This approach is very much aligned with the requirements of the Social Services and Well-Being Act (Wales) 2014.

8.         The service has been successful in reaching out to clients through new media.  We update information on a Facebook page which over 200 people have consulted; (total "likes" currently stand at 239).  Information can be posted relating to events or groups of which the service is made aware.  The service also has a presence on the Website for each Local Authority covered.  The Vale of Glamorgan Adult Autism Advice Website received 416 hits between April 2013 - March 2014 and it has already received 321 hits in the period April 2014 - August 2014.

9.         A number of areas of good practice developed by the scheme locally have been adopted by other areas of Wales.  For example, the Orange Wallet scheme is now providing improved access to public transport across Wales.

10.      The service has created innovative opportunities for social contact.  We run a monthly daytime forum which provides a means for adults to influence how the service develops and acts as a conduit for information to and from the local ASD steering group.  A Couple Support Group has also been established for situations where one or both partners are on the spectrum.  It provides an opportunity for couples to share difficulties and experiences and to engage in some group therapy.  This group was established as a result of research carried out in collaboration with Cardiff University.  In addition, our service delivers 'Socialeyes' social skills training to adults on the spectrum.  We currently run a group in Merthyr Tydfil and there are plans for another group to start at the end of September in the Vale and Cardiff areas.

11.      In addition, having highlighted a gap in provision for employment support, the project was able to secure Welsh Government funding to run a specialist employment project.  Specialist materials have been created and job skills workshops delivered.  As a result of the project, excellent links have been forged with local Job Centre Plus staff and we have been able to deliver workshops jointly with them. To date, 25 clients have been able to access the courses.  12 of them were Vale residents of whom three are now in work, four are volunteering and three are actively engaged in the process of job seeking.  More courses in co-operation with Job Centre Plus are planned for the coming year.  The team will also be delivering basic autism awareness to Job Centre staff and establishing more collaborative working practices so that we are better able to support adults with issues peripheral to the job search process.  The Welsh Government is aware of this employment work which fits well with the national strategy and they are kept informed via the regional and national ASD Local Information Network (LIN).

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

12.      Three part-time ASD Community Support Project Workers deliver the service across the four local authority areas.  The posts are for 22.5 hours 20 hours and 13.5 hours a week respectively.

13.      The grant allocation for this project for 2014-15 is £40,000.  It is awarded subject to:

·         compliance with the terms and conditions of the grant offer; and

·         satisfactory performance in the current financial year.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

14.      There are no sustainability or climate change implications as a direct result of this report.

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 individuals with high functioning autism or Asperger's syndrome may have social communication difficulties, they are sometimes at risk of being misunderstood when in contact with the police.  The service helps to raise public awareness about how individuals are best supported and also to signpost to existing means of support such as the Emergency Services Card or Autism Alert Card to help overcome these barriers.

17.      For the same reason, individuals with high functioning autism or Asperger's syndrome can sometimes be at an increased risk of falling victim to deception or manipulation.  By establishing a local source of advice and information, this risk can be reduced.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

18.      The service has been established to ensure that adults with High Functioning Autism or Asperger's syndrome are afforded the same opportunities in carrying out their daily life as adults who do not have such disorders.  Marketing materials for the service are available in Welsh.

Corporate/Service Objectives

19.      To make the Vale a safe, healthy and enjoyable 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

Strategic Action Plan for Wales (2008)

Adult Task and Finish Group Report (2009)

Adult Autism Advice marketing materials, English and Welsh

Learning Disability Commissioning Strategy

 

Contact Officer

Amanda Phillips, Operational Manager for Learning Disability Services

Keith Ingram, Autism Project Lead Officer

 

Officers Consulted

Lance Carver, Head of Adult Services

 

Responsible Officer

Philip Evans, Director of Social Services

 

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