Community Integrated Care
Our Autism Services
Introducing Community Integrated Care
Our Autism Strategy Services for people on the autism spectrum are a key strategic priority for Community Integrated Care. We are currently making a significant investment in this area to ensure that our organisation is truly delivering excellent services, meaningful outcomes and pioneering best practice. CIC’s new Autism Strategy, due to be launched in early 2014, clearly sets out our blueprint for how we will do this, building upon the success of our current services and ensuring we continue to play an active role in improving the lives of people with autism.
Community Integrated Care (CIC) is one the UK’s leading health and social care charities. Across England and Scotland we support thousands of adults and children with a diverse range of care and support needs, including learning difficulties, autism, mental health conditions and age-related needs.
Taking our lead from the Government’s National Autism Strategy – ‘Fulfilling and Rewarding Lives’ (2010), and incorporating our own understanding and knowledge, CIC’s Autism Strategy centres on six key themes:-
At the core of all we do is a commitment to realising the potential of every person we support, regardless of their needs or challenges. We passionately believe in delivering support which enables people to live with independence and choice, and lead full, happy and active lives.
• Building Better Services • Supporting People With Autism Into Work • Specialist Training
Our approach to autism
• Forming Partnerships • Promoting Inclusion • Raising Awareness
CIC supports many people of all ages who have autistic spectrum conditions and many people who do not yet have a formal diagnosis. We recognise that every person with autism has their own individual needs, abilities and aspirations, and has the right to receive support which is as unique as they are.
Building Better Services Put simply, we want our services to enable people with autism to enjoy the type of lives that we all aspire to lead: having a lovely home where we feel safe and content, building strong bonds with friends and family, enjoying a job that gives a sense of pride and achievement and taking part in activities which make us feel happy and fulfilled.
We offer this support in lots of different ways and in lots of different settings, including supported living, residential care, respite services, home care, community support, supported employment and transitional planning.
Effective support planning is vital in helping people with autism achieve their goals, whatever they may be. We recognise that everybody with autism is an individual and needs to be supported in a way that is right for them. This means that we work closely with the people we support, their families and carers, as well as other professionals and agencies, to build services specially tailored to each person’s needs and which supports them to achieve real and meaningful outcomes.
All of our services are aimed at ensuring that the people we support are empowered to make their own choices, achieve their ambitions, maximise their talents and skills, and ultimately, enjoy a meaningful, independent and fulfilled life.
Key to building the best services we can is our understanding of how important it is to achieve the right physical environment for people with autism. We work closely with our in-house property team, as well as landlords and housing providers, to carefully create living environments properly attuned to the needs of the people living there. From the architecture of the building, through to our use of specialist lighting, furnishings and assistive technologies, every detail is planned in a way that really promotes the most therapeutic and enabling environment possible.
Supporting People With Autism Into Work
Forming Partnerships Research and best practice around autism support is constantly evolving and we know that to deliver the most progressive services we can, we must work in partnership with leading academics, sector bodies and other care professionals, to shape and influence our thinking.
We passionately believe that people with autism should have the right to play an active and meaningful role within the communities they live. Importantly, this includes having their skills and talents recognised and enjoying the sense of empowerment, independence and achievement, which working brings.
CIC enjoys academic partnerships with organisations such as Strathclyde University and the University of Cumbria, whose Occupational Therapy department we have worked with to improve our autism support in the region (see page 5). We have also built strong links with the National Autistic Society, championing the important research they are undertaking to influence local and national government policy on support for people with autism.
We work closely with lots of different types of employers, seeking a wide range of job roles which offer the people we support a real opportunity to become valued and integrated team members and enjoy the sense of identify and self-esteem which work ACCREDITATION offers. In fact, CIC’s Vocational Support Service was the first supported employment service in the country to achieve Autism Accredited status from the National Autistic Society, formally recognising their best practice approach to supporting people with autism into work or training.
Over the next year we will also be looking to develop our relationships with key academic and professional partners as we draw upon their skills and expertise to help us develop our own internal quality assessment tool, which will help us to ensure that we are delivering the standards and outcomes which we have committed to.
No truly excellent services can ever be built without welltrained, motivated staff who have the right skills and understanding to see the world through the eyes of the people they support. CIC already has a robust training and development programme in place, but one of the main aims of our new strategy is to develop this further, and really enhance the knowledge and expertise of our staff.
Creating services which have a strong ethos of inclusion is fundamental to becoming a genuine frontrunner in delivering excellence and real outcomes. Importantly, inclusion must happen not only for the people supported, but for the people delivering that support too. So whilst we have set up regional social inclusion groups for the people we support to have their thoughts and opinions heard, we will also be developing regional autism forums as a platform for our staff to regularly come together and share learning and knowledge, discuss best practice approaches and identify any gaps in training.
To help us achieve this, we have invested in a Lead Autism Manager whose role it is to enhance our relationships with universities, academics and sector bodies to develop specialised evidence-based training packages and practice tools. Importantly, this means more than just training staff on autism as a condition, but also focussing education around the individual needs and challenges of the person they support.
It is also important for us to take an academic, as well as practical approach to training, and to reflect this, we are currently taking part in a pilot scheme with Strathclyde University – the National Centre for Autism Studies - which will see staff in our Scottish services undertake a module of degree level learning in ‘Understanding the Impact of Autism.’
Driving forward the personalisation agenda for people with autism is a responsibility all providers share. By maintaining an active presence in the communities in which we work, we can ensure that people who need support are aware of the services available to them and are able to exercise greater choice and control in receiving them.
Our long-term goal will be to develop Advanced Autism Practitioners in each region in which we work – essentially, training champions who will pioneer best practice at a local service level, as well as influencing our national autism training strategy too.
On a national level, we must work with organisations like the National Autistic Society to champion awareness of autism, seeking to reduce the stigma often attached to the condition, and address the lack of understanding about the valuable contribution that people with autism can make to their communities.
My hobbies Budding reporter, Karl Harry, 25, has turned a passion for photography into a part-time career with the help of CIC’s Vocational Support team. “When Karl first joined our service, he told us how much he loved technology and gadgets,” explains Justin, Karl’s Key Worker, who supports him three days a week. “But the more we explored this with him, the more we discovered that his real love was photography! He would take his camera everywhere with him and spend hours taking pictures of people, scenery and nature – that’s what gave him his biggest thrill.” Looking at his pictures, the team were in no doubt that as well as having a passion for photography, Karl had a genuine talent in it too, and they started to explore new ways for him to utilise his skills. Top: Karl with his BTEC classmates. Middle and Bottom: Some of the amazing photography taken by Karl.
“We helped Karl secure a work placement in the photography department at Boots, as well as supporting him to complete a BTEC in Creative 3
Media,” says Justin. “This experience really helped Karl develop his technical skills, as well as giving him loads more confidence with other people and increasing his independence.” So much so that the team began to encourage Karl to promote himself as a freelance photographer. A year later, with a raft of work under his belt, including commissions from Community Integrated Care’s Marketing team, Everton Football Club and Knowsley Disability Concern, and his work appearing in the pages of the Liverpool Echo Newspaper, Karl has turned his efforts to his most exciting and professional commission yet. Karl explains: “I’ve been lucky to be chosen for a part-time position with The National Waterways Museum. I will be helping them to document in pictures a brand new project to renovate the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, as well as cataloguing hundreds of maritime exhibits from their Ellesmere Port museum. It’s been brilliant working with the team at National Waterways as they have tons of modern technologies to help me create brilliant pictures and storyboards – it’s definitely my best job yet!”
Animal lover Laura, who is part of CIC’s Vocational Support Service, has been lucky enough to find her dream job placement at Pets at Home. “I absolutely love animals, so I was over the moon when I found out that I was going to be working at Pets at Home!” says Laura, 27, who has been supported by CIC for over two years. “I have lots of different jobs to do each day like stock-taking, shelf-stacking and helping customers with any questions they may have, but the best part of my day is definitely getting to see all of the different animals as they really make me giggle!” Tammy, who supports Laura during her placement three days a week adds: “Although Laura is a very capable and independent young lady, when it came to interacting with people, we knew we could help her to grow in confidence. It was important to find the right environment for Laura, somewhere she felt comfortable and happy and given her passion for animals, Pets at Home seemed the perfect choice.” “Although at first she was quite shy and nervous, Laura has really embraced the opportunity to work and it has been fantastic to see her building such great relationships with customers and colleagues. The placement has given Laura lots more routine and structure to her day, which has helped to relieve her anxieties and given her a greater sense of purpose.”
Recognising the importance of ensuring the right physical environment for people with autism, the team at CIC supported living service, Truman’s Lane, have created a fantastic first home for twins, Josh and Chris, 20, and Michael, 24. “Truman’s Lane was set up as a fresh new service for the boys back in 2011,’ explains Team Leader, Graeme Marsden, who was recruited specifically for his autism expertise. “The twins were living at home with their mum, and Michael was staying at a residential college and visiting his family at the weekend, so moving to Truman’s Lane was a really big step for all three of them.”
Graeme says: “We have also renovated one of the lounges into a therapeutic chill-out room, painted in calming colours, with lots of soft furnishings like big fluffy cushions and bean bags, nice soothing lighting and even a massage mat. So the boys will take it in turns to come in and listen to music or do a puzzle.” He concludes: “Lots of people ask me “What makes Truman’s Lane such an autism-friendly service”, and I tell them the same thing: It’s not about being autism-friendly, its about being ‘Josh, Chris and Michael-friendly’! It’s our job to create a home for the boys which is right for each of them, somewhere they feel safe, happy and secure. Hopefully that’s what we have achieved here at Truman’s Lane.”
“When we first got the keys to the property it was completely bare!,” recalls Graeme. “But the team worked around the clock to get it set up ready for the boys to move into. Looking back, although it was hard work, it was great because it meant that everything we included – from the colour we painted the walls, to the types of cushions we bought for the couches – were all the boys’ own choices and suited to their needs, which is what a first home should be all about.” With its four large bedrooms, spacious lounges, kitchen and dining area and masses of outdoor space, Truman’s Lane seems to be the perfect pad for three active and independent young men. With Josh, Chris and Michael all attending college three days a week, and spending a lot of time out visiting family or taking part in activities, their home is very much used for some much needed relaxation time. “The boys are hardly ever in, they have a better social life than me!,” laughs Graeme. “Josh and Chris love outdoor pursuits and Michael is a real train and bus enthusiast, so we are always out on day trips with him. But at the end of their jam-packed days, there is nothing they love more than chilling out at home, watching a film or playing on the Wii console.”
My home 4
My support By really understanding both autism as a condition, and the needs of the people they support, the staff team at Strothers Road, a registered CIC service in Gateshead, have helped the people living there on an amazing journey to independence. “Back in 2006 Patricia, 62, and Paul, 33, were both still living in out-dated, institutional hospital settings, but their families really fought hard to help them achieve better lifestyles and more independence, and with the support of CIC, Strothers Road became their new home,” explains Stuart Dryden, CIC Regional Manager. “Since then the team at the service have worked hard together to ensure that Patricia and Paul have the very best care and support possible. This has included building strong bonds with their families
and drawing on the expertise of a range of other professionals to develop bespoke support strategies which really meet their needs,” continues Stuart. Staff training has been the key to achieving this life-enhancing support and the team at the service regularly receive autism-specific training and education which allows them to embed the latest techniques and approaches into the support they deliver each day. So much so that this year, the service received National Autistic Society Accreditation for the fourth year running.
“Achieving this accreditation has really helped reinforce the good practice at Strothers Road. It makes a great statement about the standards the team deliver and their commitment to enabling Patricia and Paul to live the most fulfilled, happy lives possible,” says Stuart. He concludes: “The success of the service, and the development of the lives of the people living there, is evident as the team now looks to de-register the service, enabling Paul and Patricia to take the final step to true independence – their own tenancies.”
Martin Holmes, Manager at Norfolk Road, explains, “I made contact with the University, proposing a project which would see some of their Occupational Therapy undergraduates work with us to improve our communication with two residents - David and Roger, who both have learning difficulties and are on the autism spectrum - as well as give the students some valuable practical work experience too.”
Seeing the potential of the project, the University’s School of Rehabilitation and Public Health endorsed an 8-week placement for two final year OT students, with amazing results. Martin explains, “The students supported David to create a pictorial communication board, which attributes different pictures and prompts to different activities, giving staff a better understanding of David’s likes and dislikes. This means we can make sure he is doing more of the things he enjoys, which is what our support should be all about.” He adds: “With Roger, the students worked with him and his key worker to help create a plan which would increase his confidence in the kitchen, doing everyday tasks such as washing dishes or making a cup of tea. Again, this has made an incredible difference.”
One service really putting into practice the principles of positive collaboration is CIC’s Norfolk Road, a registered care service, which has recently partnered with the University of Cumbria on a project that has truly enhanced the lives of the people it supports.
Martin is thrilled with the results of the collaboration: “In care, as in life, there are always new things to learn. By seeking out, and being receptive to, innovation from new sources like the students at the University, we have been able to greatly improve the lives of the people we support.”
To find out more visit www.c-i-c.co.uk 5
Community Integrated Care's Autism Services