Corinne Moocarme (Associate Director, Physical Disability, NHS Lewisham Clinical Commissioning Group, Joint Commissioning Unit) presented the report and explained that Directors of Adult Social Services had been requested by the Department of Health to take forward the second self-assessment exercise for the implementation of the Adult Autism Strategy. It is a requirement of this process that submissions are discussed by the local Health and Wellbeing Board by the end of January 2014. The returns will be analysed by the Public Health England learning disabilities observatory. All local responses will be published in full online.
The self-assessment highlights that Lewisham is looking to establish a community that accepts and understands autism and provide an infrastructure that supports adults with Autism/Asperger’s syndrome to live fulfilling and rewarding lives. Corinne reported that there had already been several promising and innovative developments in response to the National Strategy. The Joint Commissioning Plan for Adults with Autism may need to be reviewed in light of the self-assessment.
Rita Craft (CLASH) made a brief presentation that outlined the need for specialist housing support for adults with Asperger’s Syndrome and autism. CLASH felt that the work of the housing support group had stalled and explained that they had been informed that specialist housing is not available for high-functioning (autistic) adults. Rita argued that housing for autistic people, who are often economically very active, should be part of the Lewisham Housing Strategy.
The following points were highlighted in the discussion:
· The needs of people with autism are very varied and further work is needed to identify a range of appropriate housing options.
· Elizabeth Butler queried the range of opportunities and support available in the Borough to support employment of adults with autism. She felt it could not be a “one size fits all” approach as adults with autism had a wide range of different skills and abilities. Corinne referenced an autism-specific apprenticeship scheme at St Thomas’s Hospital, and said that as large employers (health and social care) we should all consider our duties towards inclusivity (especially with regard to apprenticeship schemes). Burgess Autistic Trust is actively working with potential employees to widen the range of job opportunities locally for adults with autism.
· In response to a query from Marc Rowland regarding the role of Primary Care in supporting the implementation of the Autism Strategy, Corinne referred to the recommendations contained in Dr Ratna Ganguly’s report Autism in Lewisham, (June 2013). This recommended a review of the needs of children and young people with autism spectrum disorder in transition and a regular audit of the number of people diagnosed with Autism. Corinne said that more work needed to be done to identify what sort of training primary care staff required and how best this could be provided.
· Noted the content of the Lewisham Autism Self Assessment Framework and declared its support for local implementation work.
· Agreed that further work should be undertaken to identify a range of specialist housing options and that the housing section of the self-assessment should be expanded to give more detail on the work of the autism and housing project group.
· Agreed to establish a six-monthly cycle of updates to the Board, starting with an update on the Amber-rated indicators/areas of need.