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Agenda Item No. 6


The Vale of Glamorgan Council


Healthy Living and Social Care Scrutiny Committee: 6th  November 2017


Report of the Director of Social Services


Autistic Spectrum Disorder: Adult Autism Team


Purpose of the Report

  1. To provide Members with an update on the Adult Autism Team and to outline future actions to be undertaken.


  1. That the work being undertaken by the Adult Autism Team is noted by Scrutiny Committee.
  2. That Scrutiny Committee receives annual updates on the work of this team.

Reason for the Recommendations

1. & 2. To keep Members appraised of the work of the Adult Autism Team and its achievements to date.


  1. The inception and delivery of the Adult Autism Advice Service across Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan was specifically designed to offer low level support, advice and signposting for adults who found it difficult to access services. Adults with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) do not fit easily within Learning Disability (LD) or Mental Health (MH) Services, and for people with Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism especially this can be especially difficult.
  2. The need for such a service has been confirmed by the level of uptake for short term, preventative work.

Funding that was previously provided as a grant is now included in the Revenue Support Grant. Sufficient funding has been identified from the ring-fenced amounts for Cardiff and the Vale to continue providing the service.

  1. Over the past five years the Adult Autism Advice Service Team have collated information about available services, both within Local Authorities and from external service providers in order to appropriately signpost clients to available services and support them in accessing such services, should this be a barrier. This preventative work was aimed to enable clients to access support or opportunities that may already be available to them, with or without a diagnosis, but where they may not have known, or felt able to access the service, without the low-level support available through the service.
  2. This preventative work aims to contribute to the Local Authorities work in delivering preventative services that meet the requirements of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014.
  3. The Adult Autism Advice 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

  1. Access to the service is via telephone, on-line engagements, face-to-face meetings or by referral from partner agencies. To date, the service has been contacted by over 600 different people. Some are simple requests for information while others can result in multiple contacts over extended periods, depending on need.
  2. The service is effective in preventing or delaying the need for more extensive care and support. The service acts to try to minimise the effect on disabled people of their disability, one of the key requirements of the Social Services and Well Being Act. For example, a client at imminent risk of losing their home was supported to engage with Advocacy services that provided direct intervention and support to prevent the client reaching crisis point. This preventative work from the Autism Service supported the client in accessing a service already available in the community thus minimising and, hopefully, preventing any urgent need for council services, i.e. housing services, mental health services etc.
  3. For this particular client group the Service also meets the Local Authority's legal obligation under the above Act to provide people with information and advice relating to care and support and assistance in accessing care and support. Every request to the service results in the provision of information and/or advice. In addition many enquiries are also followed up with some continued support in accessing services that already exist in the community, for example the staff may accompany individuals to initial meetings with support groups; volunteer agencies and job centre meetings.
  4. In addition, the Service continually works to enable clients to live their lives as independently as possible. Rather than creating a dependence on support staff, the Adult Autism service, where possible, works with the individual to encourage their independence and autonomy. Case work is based on short term intervention not long term, continual support.
  5. The service has created innovative opportunities for social contact:
  • Monthly daytime forums in both Barry and Cardiff which provide a medium for adults to influence the development of the service and provides adults with a range of information from local groups and services which they can access.
  • A Couples Support Group has also been established, where one or both partners are on the spectrum to provide an opportunity for couples to share difficulties and experiences and to allow for some group therapy. This group was established as a result of research carried out by and in collaboration with Cardiff University who fund the venue.
  • Since last October the service has delivered two series of social skills workshops to adults on the spectrum through the Socialeyes Programme. One set of workshops was run in Barry and the other in Cowbridge, through links with West Vale Community Mental Health. A third series of workshops is scheduled for Penarth, commencing in November 2017.
  • Staff helped to engage clients with a cycling project, Changing Gear, run via Pedal Power in Cardiff. Adults with autism can often feel socially isolated and struggle to get out and about. Staff worked with adults to increase confidence in using public transport to get to Cardiff and then supported them to take part in a Pedal Power project which aims to work with groups of people who would not normally be able to access cycling to achieve the health and wellbeing goals that matter to them.
  • Staff ran a "Women with Autism Day" to coincide with International Women's Day attended by 30 plus women, the team also facilitated a second "accessible" chamber music concert as part of the Penarth Music Festival.
  1. The Minister for Health and Social Services Welsh Government has announced an investment of £13 million across Wales to develop an Integrated Autism Service (IAS) based on health board footprints. The structure of the IAS is prescribed by Welsh Government.
  2. Local Authorities in both Cardiff and the Vale, through the Regional Partnership Board are supporting the local implementation of the IAS by co-locating the staff currently making up the Adult Autism Team to the Integrated Autism staff team funded through the Integrated Care Fund. Local Authority staff will continue to deliver the services described above. The service will be enhanced by the addition of extra input and support available to existing staff from the IAS staff team. Cardiff and Vale University Health Board are similarly supporting the implementation by adding the staff providing diagnosis to the IAS staff team.
  3. The IAS for Cardiff and the Vale was formally launched by the minister on 27th  September 2017.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. The budget for the service is £50k. Two part time ASD Community Support Project Workers currently deliver the service across the two Local Authority areas. The posts are for 20 hours and 13.5 hours a week respectively. Sufficient funding has been identified within the ring-fenced RSG funding across Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan to meet the running costs per annum of approximately £24,000. The funding is also used for Autism project lead officer.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

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

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

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

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. As individuals with high functioning autism or Asperger's syndrome may have social communication difficulties and sometimes those who come into contact with the police can be at risk of being misunderstood. 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 Keep Safe Cymru Card to help overcome these barriers.
  2. 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)

  1. The service has been established in order 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

  1. An Inclusive and Safe Vale, reducing poverty and social exclusion. An Active and Healthy Vale, Safeguarding those who are vulnerable and promoting independent living.

Policy Framework and Budget

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

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

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

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Healthy Living and Social Care

Background Papers

Refreshed Autistic Spectrum Disorder Strategic Action Plan

Refreshed Autistic Spectrum Disorder Strategic Action Plan Delivery plan 2016-2020


Adult Autism Advice marketing materials, English and Welsh

Learning Disability Commissioning Strategy

Contact Officer

Linda Woodley, Operational Manager for Learning Disability Services

Keith Ingram, Autism Project Lead Officer

Officers Consulted

Suzanne Clifton, Head of Adult Services

Responsible Officer:

Lance Carver, Director of Social Services