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New £1m pilot service to support autistic people and those with learning disabilities

New £1m pilot service to support autistic people and those with learning disabilities

Local autistic people and those with learning disabilities are set to benefit from a new £1m service provided by local authorities and the NHS.

2 March 2022

Many autistic people, or those with a learning disability, can find some ‘everyday’ experiences present them with real challenges, and sometimes they may react in ways that those who are not autistic, or have a learning disability, do not understand.

The Intensive Positive Behaviour Support pilot will work with individuals and their families to identify the triggers of these behaviours and help to develop actions and techniques to manage them. Local clinicians, operational leads and service users will co-design the service, with implementation beginning in November (2022).

The pilot, which is a partnership scheme involving local councils and the NHS, will initially support 40 adults across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

Councillor Helen Holland, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Adult Social Care and Integrated Care System at Bristol City Council, said: “This exciting scheme supports our ambition to ensure autistic people and individuals with learning disabilities are treated as valued members of our communities and given the best chances in life. It can bring huge benefits to individuals, their families and the wider care system.

“By being truly involved in the scheme from day one, participants will co-design the offer based on their needs and aspirations. The programme will then help them achieve their personal goals, whatever they are, allowing them to live more independent and rewarding lives. If successful, the programme will also help make the best use of resources, enabling care to be delivered closer to home and improve the quality of life for some of our most vulnerable people.”

The long-term ambition for the programme is to support vulnerable people and their families in their community, reducing the breakdown of placements and the use of inpatient facilities – which can often be far away.

Rosi Shepherd, Director of Nursing and Quality for NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCG, said: “We are pleased to be working together on this pilot that will provide support and guidance to autistic people as well as those with learning disabilities in our area, and help them to overcome episodes of distress. We want to support people to live their very best lives and be accepted for who they are, improving quality of life – both for themselves and their loved ones.

“Being able to understand distress, and communicate the way you feel, can be difficult for many people; but it can be more difficult if you are autistic or have a learning disability. This may lead to behaviour that could be challenging, and we hope this pilot is successful in helping people and their families.”

Councillor Mike Bell, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Adult Social Services at North Somerset Council, said: “I’m delighted that North Somerset is part of this joint pilot scheme. It’s vital that we support autistic people and those living with learning disabilities who most need help to succeed in their everyday lives.

“By working together with our partners across the region, we can share our resources to deliver a better level of specialist support. This important initiative will also recognise and value our care and support staff by helping them learn new skills and enhance their existing expertise.”

Councillor Ben Stokes, Cabinet Member for Adults and Housing at South Gloucestershire Council, said: “It is really important that when designing services to support people who are autistic and those with learning difficulties, we develop them alongside those service users. By working this way and valuing their input, we gain a better understanding of their needs and how to provide meaningful help. I am pleased that in the coming year we will spend time collaborating to create the Intensive Positive Behaviour Support programme. With that learning and the experience of the pilot, I hope that we will be able to provide more and better support to those who need it.”

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