• Kate: on the governments ‘5 year autism strategy’ and ‘unfair to care’ reports

    Kate Allen Chief Executive

     

    There can be no doubt that it has been a significant week as Covid related legislation has been lifted for many situations. Good reason to be joyful as more people can once again have contact with one another; social distancing has eased and face coverings are no longer required. People we support and employees can take part in important family gatherings, BBQs, parties, weddings.

    However…. and this is a very important however…. our employees are providing a service to vulnerable people who may be at greater risk of illness if they contracted Covid and as such we are requiring that Covid measures continue in line with Public Health England Guidance (albeit no longer legislation).

    Therefore face coverings are still required when within 2 metres of supporting someone, although some situations will allow for 1 metre. Gloves and aprons are still required when providing personal care and are to be disposed of immediately after personal care has finished. Most importantly, vaccination is still strongly encouraged for our employees and people we support. As of 22nd July, 92% of staff and 80% of people we support* have received their first vaccination. 72% of people we support have also received their 2nd vaccination.  *This does not include those people who receive outreach support.

    This continuation of Covid measures will be frustrating to some, particularly in the heat we have experienced the last few days, but our sensible and cautious approach to date has kept all of the people we support and staff safe. Therefore it is essential we continue to proceed with caution. Chris Whitty recently said, “The slower we take it, the fewer people will have Covid, the smaller the peak will be, and the smaller the number of people who go into hospital and die.”

    It really is as simple as that.

    This week sees us with 2 positive cases of Covid amongst staff and 6 self-isolating after contact with someone who has Covid. No cases have been reported amongst people we support.

    You may have had chance to read the ‘Unfair to Care’ report circulated last week that continues a similar vein to the #BetterPay4SocialCare campaign, calling for improved funding across social care to recognise the skills of support and care workers. I particularly noted and agree with one of their statements about empathy, Support workers need a degree of empathy ‘which goes above common courtesy’.”

    We pride ourselves on being a little different to other social care providers and you may remember me saying at our 25th Anniversary Annual Celebration that having scratched our heads trying to work out what is it that is different about our staff, we decided it is the simplicity of our kindness. I believe that in order to be kind, you need to be able to appreciate the situation of other people and respond accordingly, and that empathy is a skill we promote and encourage towards people we support and employees. The circumstances of the last year has made opportunities to demonstrate kindness harder in some situations, as our efforts were all focused on crisis response, but I am particularly looking forward to rebuilding this year and bringing people back together.

    And finally, for the really big news…. The new autism strategy and implementation plan for the next 5 years was launched on Wednesday. The Government talk about the ‘real steps’ required to help autistic people live ‘happy and fulfilled’ lives and are promising significant financial investment of around £75millon to achieve those real steps. Covering education; access to healthcare and employment; transition to adulthood; criminal justice service and social care, the strategy is comprehensive and encouragingly comes with a clear set of objectives and targets for 2021/22 with a promise for more milestone targets to be set after the spending review. However, my concern is that the funding seems targeted at professionals and departments involved in planning and commissioning and it isn’t obvious yet how it will get to those involved in the delivery. When we all know that the availability of service provision is where it all so often stumbles. There is much to be pleased about with this strategy and my default is to remain optimistic and work with what we have, but I am feeling frustrated that all these good initiatives continually fail to see that it is the support and care workers who make the biggest difference every day to the autistic adults and children they work with and until their skill set is recognised and rewarded, support and care will continue to stumble.

    I have provided the link to the full strategy report below, although the NAS have produced a helpful quick summary of the top 5 things to come out of it here https://www.autism.org.uk/what-we-do/news/new-autism-strategy

    Main strategy report:

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-strategy-for-autistic-children-young-people-and-adults-2021-to-2026

    Wishing you all a lovely weekend ahead.

    Kate.

    Abi Cowley

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