Estelle Christmas, Chief Operating Officer on supporting autistic people out of long-term hospital care
As a charity committed to supporting autistic people in challenging situations, we have become experts in the transition of peoples’ lives. Ten years ago, we were building a purpose-built home, ready to support young adults, usually transitioning from residential children’s settings. We’ve worked hard to enable often ‘institutionalised’ young adults to gain confidence, learn life skills and make decisions about their lives, as they begin their journey into supported-living.
Institutional settings, such as hospitals, are generally not ideal places for autistic adults to live, yet too many find themselves in long-term hospital care. The NHS long-term plan identifies this and targets are set to moving people out of hospital care and into the community, supporting local providers and organisations to provide multi-disciplinary person-centred care.
Given Autism at Kingwood’s experience and expertise, we were delighted to began work last year with Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group and partner organisation “Lives Through Friends”, to support autistic people moving out of hospital.
Sarah Shield, our Area Manager and Transition Lead, is managing this project and has built successful professional relationships with a number of commissioners and professionals from the multi- disciplinary team with which we are engaging. The pandemic has presented obvious challenges that have prevented us from moving at the pace which we initially adopted; however momentum is once again gathering speed and our hope is that we will have assisted to move one person from a specialist hospital unit into their own home by June.
Sarah is recruiting a team, to support the person moving on from hospital, as well as developing bespoke support services to autistic adults across Wiltshire, which may range from a few hours per week through to 24/7 arrangements as required.
We are excited about providing ongoing support to more autistic people who have spent considerable time in hospital care, as well as truly person-centred support, that will enable people to make their own choices that will enhance quality of life.