Summary of report content
Healthwatch Walsall undertook research into the experiences of people accessing services that support people with learning disabilities and/or autism in the community. They undertook a survey to which they received 22 responses and undertook focus groups with 41 participants.
Access to CAMHS for assessments and for support post-diagnosis for those that receive a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder was raised as an issue by some parents. It was felt by some that there needed to be a crisis before there was enough intervention.
Accessing Education Health and Care Plans was an issue for parents, who experienced difficulties getting schools to request them and long waiting times for assessments. This was impacting on access to education and other services for some people. Involvement in the decision-making process was less commented on, possibly because the feedback received was from parents who were still waiting to access assessments for their children.
Whilst those with learning disabilities were generally happy with their social activities and the support that they received to access them, it was felt by paid carers that there was a lack of activities for families and young people. The costs of activities were also raised as some commercial activities were higher priced in the school holidays and this was a barrier to access for service users.
Having access to information on what services were available for both those with learning disabilities and/or autism and their carers was identified as important but often not available. This was also the case with moving from children’s services to adult services. Having a social worker was a means of accessing services but continuity of social workers was a problem, alongside the knowledge that social workers have of learning disabilities. As social workers move on from the service users once their support has been agreed this meant that when needs changes outside an annual review cycle it could be difficult to access a new assessment.
The report contains 8 recommendations about access to CAMHS, assessments, social workers, training for professionals, how information should be delivered, better access to activities, greater engagement with these groups by those who commission services.