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Options Autism has become the only such provider in the country to have four of its services rated as ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) since the introduction of new inspection standards.
The outstanding services, all based in and around North Lincolnshire, provide support to young people and adults with autism.
As an innovative, specialist residential service, Options Watermill Lodge, was the latest service to receive the rating following an unannounced inspection.
The three other services rated as outstanding are Options Autism Applegate, in Barton-upon-Humber, which was awarded outstanding in December 2014; Options Roxby House, in Roxby, which was also given the top mark in November 2015; and Options Watermill House, which shares a site with Options Watermill Lodge, and was rated as outstanding in January 2016.
The four Options Autism services are in the top one per cent of adult social care services that are rated Outstanding by CQC standards in the country.
Head of adult autism services, Russell Leese, said he attributed their success to never standing still as an organisation, and consistently striving to become more personal and more adaptable to the needs of the people they support.
Russell said: “I have been asked on many occasions the reasons behind our success, but in fact the detail of our work is no different to other effective specialist providers. The real key to our success is the way it is all pulled together by our expert support and management teams. If you take away just one element, then it doesn’t work effectively.”
For over 16 years Options Autism has supported a number of children, young people and adults who require specialist services. In the past year, Options Autism has worked with nearly half of all local authorities in England and Wales, delivering care and education for an increasing number of children and adults.
Unlike some care providers, Options Autism has its own in-house team of clinicians, including psychologists, speech and language therapists and specialist occupational therapists, meaning support and interventions for those who need can be immediate.
“Our clinical team makes a real difference,” says Russell. “Instead of having to wait for an appointment, or take our youngsters into environments that are unfamiliar to them to receive clinical support, we are able to offer it to them in their normal, familiar surroundings. Our clinicians also ensure that they pass on their knowledge and expertise to those responsible for day-to-day caring, to ensure that people are consistently given the best possible support for their needs.”
Russell says that this all helps an already-dedicated workforce.
“All of our staff, from support workers to clinicians, know and understand how what they do contributes to the bigger picture.
“We have an incredible staff induction programme, which is vital. The programme involves three weeks theoretical learning, before shadowing an experienced member of staff in our services.
“We also provide on-going mentoring support and training for all of our staff members. We have a specialist approach, which all of our staff understand and work together to achieve. We have a solid management team, who share our ethos, and pass this on to their team, along with their skills and knowledge. It is crucial that our staff members understand and believe our ethos.”
Options Autism prides itself on delivering high quality services, and onsite facilities at Watermill Lodge include a sensory room, hydrotherapy pool, specialist outdoor activity equipment and an activity barn.
Speaking of Options Autism services, Russell said: “We have put a high level of investment into our services, to allow us to support people the way we do. Each of our services has been developed with each individual service user in mind, to accommodate people in the best way possible. The model for Watermill Lodge, a purpose built building, works extremely well and we will definitely use this again in the future. The building successfully meets the sensory and physical needs of those we support, and provides a safe environment. Our services offer people the chance to learn new skills they apply in the outside world, as we believe in encouraging meaningful lives.
“Through person-centred planning, we place a strong focus on each individual’s strengths. During the assessment process we look at people’s abilities, as well as their needs, and try to develop these strengths further.”
The Options Autism journey of care is a unique pathway within the sector and offers support to individuals at any stage of their life. Whilst some of Options Autism services are set up to focus on longer-term care, they continually invest in the children, young people and adults in their care to ensure positive progression throughout their lives.
Russell first started working in the autism sector as a psychology undergraduate, and has a wealth of knowledge and experience, having been a senior manager for 16 years.
Speaking of their multiple outstanding ratings, Russell said: “In our outstanding services, autism has always been our specialism, and I think the key to our success is that we haven’t tried to branch out to other areas, which are unfamiliar to us, we have stayed true to course.
“I am incredibly proud of our achievement, and how we positively change the lives of the people we support. I feel lucky that Options Autism has a large effective team, who all share the same ethos.”
The latest CQC report for Watermill Lodge, said: “The service provided outstanding care and support to people enabling them to live fulfilled and meaningful lives. The registered manager and team demonstrated passion and commitment to providing the best care possible for people, celebrating individual’s personal achievements with them.”