Community support services

This refers to the range of services available for autistic adults via social services. The aim of these services is to enable the autistic person to participate in society and enjoy freedom and independence.

These services are available to people who are considered ’vulnerable’members of society. These include the disabled, elderly people and people with a mental health problem or an addiction, e.g. alcohol.

Another name for this is ’community care’. It does not include employment, health, social security benefits or educational issues which are dealt with by the appropriate department or organisation.

These services are provided by your local authority, via your social services department.

How do you obtain these services? The answer is from an initial assessment of your needs.

Applying for community care

Everyone who applies for community care has to undergo an initial assessment. This is an assessment of your individual needs and is carried out by a social worker.

Once they have done this they will use the information to devise a ’care plan’which details the care you need and how this will be arranged.

Once your needs have been identified the local authority has a duty to ensure that those needs are met. You can always find out more about this by contacting your local authority and asking to see a copy of their community care plan.

You can apply directly to your social services department for an assessment or a family member or friend can do this for you. Alternately, your GP may contact social services on your behalf.

Community care assessment

You will be informed of the date and time of your assessment. This assessment will take in your own home (or your parents’home) and involves a number of criteria.

These criteria are related to your personal needs and include:

  • Health
  • Social
  • Personal
  • Accommodation
  • Finance/money
  • Transport/access to transport
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Leisure

This will also include any physical or mental requirements associated with your autism.

The aim is to not only look at the actual needs but the impact they have on your day to day life. The social worker will try to ascertain what you like and dislike and your needs in the future as well as those at present.

This information is then collated and used to produce a care plan. The care plan is reviewed on a regular basis which also includes the types of services you receive.

Assessment decision

This assessment is then reviewed using a set of eligibility criteria which are used to decide if you qualify for help from social services. This is based upon the resources available to that local authority and is done fairly and without prejudice.

If you do not meet these criteria then you will not be eligible for community care although you can appeal against this decision. But if you are deemed to have met these criteria then a care plan will be devised which aims to meet your needs.

Care plan

The care plan will contain details of your condition, e.g. autistic spectrum disorder, your individual needs and the services available to you.

If you are living at home then you may be offered home-based care such as someone helping you with a few tasks at home, e.g. cooking: or adaptations to your home to make things easier such as furniture which cannot be damaged or covered in padding to stop you from injuring yourself (e.g. banging your head).

Double glazing can cut down on noise as can thick carpets. A plastic coating can be stuck onto the windows to reduce the amount of light whilst ensuring your privacy.

These are a few of the many adaptations at home that can make things easier for you.

Other forms of help include taking you to a gym or leisure centre or away on holiday. Another option is providing you with a computer and internet access.

If you are looking to move to your own place then the care plan will help you to find somewhere via your local housing association or other housing body. They can help to find you a place in a residential centre if you are unable to live independently and require 24 hour care.

Waiting for help and support

Whatever services you need the social worker will endeavour to give you choice and flexibility in these so that your needs are fully met. He or she will inform you as to the length of time you will have to wait until you are provided with these services.

These services should be provided within what is known as a ’reasonable’amount of time. You may have to wait for a few weeks but if this persists or you do not receive one or any of these services then you have the right to complain.

Do you have to pay for these services? This is based upon the discretion of your local authority. They will look at your income and decide how much you have to contribute towards these services.

It is your income only which is taken into account. This still applies even if you are aged 18 and over but living with your parents. Their income is not included in the ’means-tested’ assessment, only yours.

If you own your own property and only require home-based support then the value of this property will not be included in the assessment.

Plus your means of paying for services should not be included either. The criteria are based upon your income, e.g. salary and not your financial situation in general. But if for some reason, the local authority need to see details of your finances then they will have to request this after the assessment.

Direct Payments

Once the funding has been decided for your care there is the option to receive this via Direct Payments. Direct Payments is a system whereby someone receives money to pay for services that they need rather than obtaining these services directly from their local authority.

In other words, this person can choose the services they need and pay for them which enable them to retain their independence.

There are direct payments for a person with a disability such as autism and direct payments for people (carers) looking after a disabled person.

If you opt for direct payments then this means being responsible for employing trained staff to provide these services or spending time looking for suitable services which can be stressful. So you need to be aware of this and consider this option carefully before deciding whether to have these payments.

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