Equality Impact Assessment

Name of the proposal : Hampshire Autism Strategy for Adults

Department : Adult Services

Name of lead officer : Linda Burgess

Publication date: 13/02/2012

Review date: 27/08/2012

Departmental Manager Approval by : Richard Ellis

Departmental Manager Approval date : 12/01/2012

Updated Information

The formal consultation on the Draft Hampshire Autism Strategy for Adults took place between 27 February 2012 and closed on 18 May 2012. The consultation was to find out whether or not stakeholders and the general public agreed with its approach and points of action for improving services for adults with autism in Hampshire.

The consultation was publicised widely – communications were sent to all known contacts with a connection to autism in Hampshire, including individuals, schools, colleges, Universities, service providers, hard to reach groups ie traveller and gypsy communities and many organisations.

A questionnaire, developed with the support of Hampshire Autism Voice (HAV), through which people might present their views, was made available in various formats, including Braille, large print and easy read. 11 consultation events were held across Hampshire where people could find out about the strategy and put forward their views. People were also able to submit views on line or by post.

A focus group was held in the New Forest for the gypsy and traveller community, which The Council’s Equality and Inclusion team members were pivotal in supporting. Another focus group was held in Havant for people with autism and their families, supported by Hampshire Autism Society and Family Liaison and Autism Support (FLASH). These focus groups were organised as it was identified within these specific communities that many members would not be able to meaningfully engage using the other consultation methods planned.

NHS Hampshire considered the draft strategy through internal governance structures in February 2012. GPs were able to comment via the Clinical Commissioning Groups.

116 consultation responds were received. Many comments mirrored those in the 2011 ‘autism participation’ consultation. However, there were a few additional comments and recommendations from the focus groups, which will re-shape the look of the Easy Read Strategy. Both consultation reports will be revisited to ensure the implementation plan responds to the needs of everyone, including those highlighted by harder to reach groups.

The full report on the results of the public consultation can be found at:

http://www3.hants.gov.uk/draft-hampshire-autism-strategy-adults.pdf

Main purpose and aims of the policy, plan or project

Autism is a lifelong developmental ‘hidden’ disability that affects the way a person communicates with, and relates to, people and the world around them. The term ‘autism’ in the strategy reflects the full spectrum and includes Aspergers Syndrome, High Functioning Autism, Pervasive Development Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder and Autism Spectrum Condition.

Adults with autism, and their families, face many barriers in their everyday lives and in accessing services and support they need. Many people and professionals misunderstand autism. Barriers and misunderstanding affects their ability to live independently and gaining long-term and meaningful employment. People with autism do not have equality access to, and quality of response, from local services and healthcare, nor do they have sufficient choice and control over where and how they live.

The Autism Act 2009, led to the Department of Health’s Fulfilling and Rewarding Lives: The strategy for adults with autism in England (March 2010). The Hampshire’s vision is that all people with autism, whatever their age, have the same opportunities as anyone else to live rewarding and fulfilling lives. The local commitment to take forward the work so far to improve services for people with autism has been outstanding from public services, independent and voluntary organisations and people with autism and their families.

Hampshire does not currently have an autism strategy. The Hampshire Autism Strategy for Adults is the first of a two part ‘across the lifespan’ autism strategy. The second part, the Hampshire Autism Strategy for Children, will follow in 2013.

Although the current financial climate is very challenging and there is no additional money to implement the strategy, the Hampshire Autism Strategy for Adults focuses on laying the foundations for the changes needed in local services by:

• Ensuring availability and consistency of adult autism diagnosis and pre and post diagnosis support;

• Working to make mainstream services more accessible for people with autism, with a particular focus on healthcare services;

• Working in partnership with housing partners so people with autism are better supported to live independently;

• Promoting opportunities for people with autism to access adult education and training;

• Working in partnership with all organisations for adults with autism to be provided opportunities to get a job and keep it;

• Ensuring that every opportunity is considered to help people with autism to be socially included and safe;

• Recognising the whole family and the needs of carers;

• Raising awareness of autism, particularly across public services;

• Putting personalisation at the centre of all activities.

Main elements of the policy, plan or project

The Hampshire Autism Partnership Board developed the strategy. It has consulted with people with autism, parents and carers, staff who work with people with autism, and voluntary, independent and public sector organisations. The strategy also responds to the central government guidance and legislation and to other priorities that have been agreed locally; such as ‘A Vision for Adult Social Care Hampshire Model 2011-2014’.

Through ‘Autism Participation – Have your say’ we consulted people on what was needed in the strategy. We undertook a seven week consultation process, between June to July 2010, with over 255 people providing us their views and recommendations. Six drop-in events were held across the County to help people complete the consultation questionnaire and provide them local and national autism information.

The consultation feedback highlighted that people with autism want mainstream support, plus extra support services specific to meet their needs. Some people wanted to have single gender support groups, others wanted age specific support groups, especially noticed as lacking in Hampshire for older people. For others, lack of local public transportation to support groups, employment and training was evident.

The report from this consultation is found at the following link:

http://www.hants.gov.uk/pdf/autism-participation-report-september2011.pdf

The Hampshire Autism Strategy for Adults is Hampshire’s response to the consultation. Consultation of the strategy is planned for 12 weeks, from 27th February to 18th May 2012 inclusive. The strategy is planned to be launched at the end of September 2011.

Detailed Assessment

Age: Impact : Medium
Any specific issues identified: 1. Adult autism diagnostic service

2. Establish networks to develop appropriate support groups.

3. Provide clear and accessible information and advice.

What action will be taken to address any identified issues: 1. Monitor and review newly commissioned service in 2012. Re-commission as required.

2. Meet with voluntary organisations and providers to establish need and capacity.

3. Develop information with Hampshire Autism Voice

Disability: Impact : Medium
Any specific issues identified: Inclusion opportunities for all people with disabilities, including autism, in the consultation of the draft strategy
What action will be taken to address any identified issues: Speak with Hampshire Autism Voice, and disability and autism organisations from the voluntary, independent and public sector over their involvement in the draft strategy consultation.
Faith: Impact : Low
Any specific issues identified:  
What action will be taken to address any identified issues:  
Gender: Impact : Medium
Any specific issues identified: Raising awareness among professionals about how autism is often presented differently by females and males.
What action will be taken to address any identified issues: - Continue with the development and delivery of commissioned autism training.

- Finalise the pan-Hampshire's e-learning toolkit, place on Hantsweb for free access to all and inform people and organisations on how to access it.

Transgender: Impact : Medium
Any specific issues identified: As detailed in 'age', 'disability' and 'gender'
What action will be taken to address any identified issues: As detailed in 'age', 'disability' and 'gender'
Race: Impact : Medium
Any specific issues identified: Inclusion of BME groups in the strategy's consultation
What action will be taken to address any identified issues: Work with BME groups known and established in Hampshire to ensure inclusion in the strategy's consultation.
Sexual Orientation: Impact : Low
Any specific issues identified:  
What action will be taken to address any identified issues:  
Marriage / civil partnership: Impact : Low
Any specific issues identified:  
What action will be taken to address any identified issues:  
Pregnancy & maternity: Impact : Low
Any specific issues identified:  
What action will be taken to address any identified issues:  
Other factors: Impact : No Impact
Any specific issues identified:  
What action will be taken to address any identified issues:  

Details of why some groups are low and/or no impact

Faith:

People with autism who are already perceived to have a ‘difference’ to that of others around them may have the additional vulnerability, created due to how they convey their faith. However, faith may be a positive influence and reduce the impact of a person’s vulnerability as they experience social inclusion and a sense of well-being thorough their religious activities.

The strategy places emphasis on the need to raise awareness about autism among professionals, employers and the general public, which should help people with autism integrate more easily into their communities what ever their faith.

Sexual orientation:

Just under 50% of people with autism also have a learning disability. The extent that a person’s learning disability affects their level of understanding may mean they have less opportunity to make and develop relationships, and less likely to learn about sexual development. One of the other main problems for people with autism are difficulties with social skills which can lead to confusion of their sexual orientation.

The strategy places emphasis on the need to raise professionals’ awareness about how autism is presented in everyone. The newly commissioned diagnostic service can also provide post diagnosis relationship support. Both will assist professionals to respond positively to sexual orientation issues.

Marriage/civil partnership:

The strategy is inclusive for all adults with autism in Hampshire. As such the impact on marriage and civil partnerships is as contained in the above sections.

Pregnancy and maternity:

The strategy is inclusive for all adults with autism in Hampshire. As such the impact on pregnancy and maternity is as contained in the above sections.

Other factors:

None known.

Conclusion

Nationally and regionally there are three tiers of governance for the strategy:

1. The Adult Autism Strategy Programme Board, providing overall programme governance

2. The Delivery Group, reporting to the Adult Autism Strategy Programme Board.

3. Department of Health Deputy Regional Directors of Social Care and Partnerships, who will oversee progress on a regional level, working closely with local leads.

Locally, the Hampshire Autism Partnership Board brings together a range of services and stakeholders including parents, carers and people with autism. The aim of the Board is to set the direction for improved services for people with autism, and monitor progress.

Hampshire Adult Services identified a lead senior officer to chair the Board, the Deputy Director of Adult Services. Therefore Hampshire is well placed to link into regional and national work and structures and has established excellent networks and partnerships to take forward implementing the strategy.

Hampshire’s Autism Strategy for Adults provides a real opportunity for the needs of adults with autism to be understood and for national and local plans to be put in place to help meet these needs. The autism strategy provides the framework and structures to help local people with autism to have the same opportunities as everyone else to help them achieve their full potential.

 

For more information please visit the Hampshire County Council Equality & Diversity web page.