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Autism Involvement Group (AIG) – August 2020

AIG meeting held on 11th August 2020

Summary

This AIG discussions included:

Issues arising from lockdown – all

A chance for AIG members to talk about their perspectives during the Covid-19 lock down restrictions. It was noted that the operational manager in attending today’s meeting would do their best to answer question on behalf of the health and social care system.

Some of the main issues covered were:

• Lack of communication from services.
• Anxiety caused due to restrictions, such as Social Distancing Rules.
• Change of needs due to anxiety caused by the current situation.
• The effect on Social Care and Autism Assessments.
• The need for both the general public and vulnerable people receive the correct information about the pandemic and lockdown.

It was noted that more information on Adult Social Care Assessment could be added to the Dimensions for Autism(DFA) ‘Yellow Brick Road guide’ which appears on the DFA website, and a review of that part of the guide would take place in light of the discussions today.

The distress caused by people not adhering to social distancing and confusion over the guidance was discussed. DCC have published lots of helpful information for the public which has been shared with community groups. An example of this was the information about social distancing cards on the DCC website.

DCC are providing lots of public information and working with lots of partners to get messages to the public in general and people who are shielding.DCC has to rely on national guidance which the local authority does its best to communicate locally

Dimensions for Autism (DFA) Update– Sam Chew

New information about DFA groups running and more detail which included:

About 45 people are accessing online meetings. Many over 65s don’t have the technology or understanding of the systems or are nervous about trying to use it. Some of the glitches that occur can cause immediate anxiety. DFA can help people access Discord. The Discord platform can be used for one to one conversation or up to 15 people can use it at a time. This has meant that some people who wouldn’t normally go to a physical meeting have been communicating with each other.

DFA have set up a resources section in their ‘Yellow Brick Road’ guide, which people have been using to share information about support cards, wearing masks and other practical issues.

DFA and networks like this offer people peer support, building confidence and providing information. The role of self-help groups was particularly important in times like the pandemic period, because statutory agencies have to focus on the people with the most pressing needs, such as additional mental health issues mentioned earlier, and services continually have to risk-assess who they prioritise for support.

All the recent lockdown discussion will be influencing the design of the new model for autism support, as outlined in the business case previously aired at AIG.

GP Survey – Living Options Devon (LOD)

LOD presented the results of the survey to check how many GPs were using the Autism Awareness Toolkit.The online survey had been sent to GPs as part of the CCG’s GP bulletin.

Of those who did respond, the vast majority answered that they had either not received the autism awareness toolkit or were not sure if they had.

The free text that was filled in showed that GPs are frustrated and feel that their role is to signpost. AIG discussed the responses to each question and the consensus was that the number of responses was very low, the reasons for GPs not having enough awareness are unclear, so more work would need to be more work done to find out why. This work is part of the wider system-wide development aimed at improving understanding of autism. It was agreed to form a working group to take this work forward.