There’s a lot to consider when choosing an appropriate autism service, from the physical environment to responsive staff, effective therapeutic interventions and personalised care plans. Here are a few key elements to help identify the best autism services in London.
A Responsible, Efficient Company
The organisation should take an approach of continual development in line with a Framework for Quality Assurance. They should appreciate the need for flexibility and responsiveness in dealing with varied complex needs. Service user experiences should be taken on board to inform future developments and address any amendments to the service as appropriate to meet the needs of the individuals.
A Nurturing Environment
Both supported living and residential services are available, some of which will specialise in care for learning disabilities and mental health conditions in addition to autism. Residential homes should be well equipped to support service users improve and manage their day-to-day lives, and ideally the service would be located for easy access to gardens or community access to the local shops and nearby facilities. For those in supported living, staff should help individuals understand their tenancy agreement and support them, while working through their care plan and encouraging positive behaviours enabling greater independence through education, volunteering and employment.
Reporting and Safeguarding
A quality service will take responsibility for timely, diligent reporting of outcomes and incidents as per a transparent Safeguarding Framework. Protection plans should be in place for individuals to identify areas requiring extra attention, and thorough risk management assessments should be undertaken.
The Individual Is at the Heart of the Service
The best services will prioritise the individual, implementing personalised care plans to recognise their needs, wants and goals, reflecting the unique nature of each person. Service users should be enabled and empowered to live a fulfilling, meaningful and happy life, with thorough frameworks in place to identify the goals, methods for attaining them and positive outcomes for each service user. Tailored therapeutic interventions need to be offered, such as through a Therapeutic Care Pathway model, and residential and supported living can offer the likes of positive behaviour support, cognitive behavioural therapy, speech and language therapy, occupation therapy, daily and life skills training and peer collaboration and interaction.
Many individuals with Asperger’s or autism have physical health conditions, such as seizures, and behavioural issues may include repetitive behaviours, emotion-driven outbursts and difficulties with social interactions and communication. The service should be responsive to the range of behavioural, emotional and physical needs.
Attentive Specialist Staff
The best autism services in London will have a specialist team of skilled, reliable, compassionate staff to help individuals deal with the daily challenges they face. To develop the most efficient staff, training and continual development, generally starting with a thorough induction, need to be prioritised. In conjunction with the service and ethos of the organisation, staff should be responsive to complex needs while empowering and encouraging individuals they provide care for.
To get the best autism care that London services can provide, the organisation needs to put the individual at the heart of its work to nurture, empower and support in line with stringent reporting, ongoing training and safeguarding to cultivate a protective, transparent environment.