The National Autistic Society (NAS) announced a victory today for adults with autism as changes to the new care system have recognised their hidden needs. The new national eligibility criteria for care and support can be found here. The Care Act regulations and guidance will now be submitted to Parliament for approval and the new system will come in to legal force in April 2015.
The NAS’s social reform campaign, Careless, has won vital improvements to the Government rules accompanying the new Care Act which identify who will and won’t receive help.
Careless, which was launched in June 2014, highlighted that the rules did not take in to account the basic needs of people with autism. This risked creating a system that failed to protect them against abuse, neglect and loneliness. The NAS urged the Government to make changes so that the new rules recognised the needs of this vulnerable group:
- to stay safe from abuse or neglect
- for guidance or prompting to carry out essential activities
- to form and develop relationships
Over 10,000 supporters backed the campaign, which has also reinforced the requirement on local authorities to ensure that needs assessments for an adult with autism are carried out by a community care assessor with autism expertise.
The new statutory guidance for the Care Act will also benefit adults with autism because it also requires local authorities to take action to assure the future safety of a person who has already experienced abuse or is considered at risk of harm in the future.
Mark Lever, Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society (NAS), said:
“The NAS is pleased to see that the Government has listened to people with autism by recognising their specific care needs. We hope that the new rules will ensure that some of society’s most vulnerable members are now protected from a life of abuse or neglect.
The NAS and our supporters will be alert to how this plays out in practice at a time when local authority budgets are under pressure and, overall, the new national eligibility threshold has been set at a level that means only those considered to have more substantial needs will receive care. This risks undermining the welcome emphasis the Care Act places on prevention and well-being.
Going forward, it is vital that the Government commits to greater funding if the new care system is to give adults with autism the support they need to live healthy and fulfilling lives.”
The National Autistic Society’s Careless campaign, launched on 16 June, raised concerns that the draft regulations did not take into account the basic needs of many people with autism. For more information www.nas.org.uk/