The Department of Health has published statutory guidance outlining how health and social care should ensure services are more focussed on an individual’s needs.
Care Services Minister Paul Burstow told the National Autistic Society Conference on Friday that the guidance sets a clear direction for how health and social care services should implement the autism strategy: ‘Fulfilling and rewarding lives’.
It covers diagnosis of autism, assessing the needs of adults with autism, building awareness and understanding of autism amongst frontline staff, training for frontline staff, information for adults with autism, personalised services based on local needs and transition support for young people with autism.
The statutory guidance follows an extensive consultation process around the autism strategy last year in which adults with autism, their families, carers and representative organisations identified gaps in existing services.
Mr Burstow said: “It is unacceptable that adults with autism have not been getting the full and appropriate care and support that they need from health and social care services. This government has set the direction of travel and it is now important that local commissioners and providers recognise this and identify where improvements need to be made.”
Mark Lever, Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society, said that councils needed to take account the new legal duties coming into force under the Autism Act when they set their budgets, so as not to allow people with autism to continue to fall between the gaps in services.
“One third of adults with autism have developed a serious mental health problem as a result of a lack of support, and families tell us that they are often left struggling to cope,” he said.