Supporting Patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder within High Secure Forensic Services.
Rampton Hospital is the single provider for High Secure Services in England and Wales for men who suffer from a range of Learning Disabilities. Over recent months, we have developed and implemented a specialist ward to support patients with an ASD diagnosis at Rampton Hospital.
The dedicated unit currently provides care for 47 men shared across 4 wards. Within this service, Aintree Ward, has been identified to provide care for up 13 patients who have pre identified complex needs. By dividing the ward, we have established two separate units, one side to provide care for enhanced needs, the other to specialise in the care and treatment of patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Despite the recent challenges of covid-19, we remain hopeful to launch this dedicated service as early as September 2020.
Training is in progress to support staff and increase awareness of a wide range of specialist approaches to enhance the care for individuals in this service. The ward will promote the SPELL approach, this is the National Autistic Society’s framework for understanding and responding to the needs of individuals on the autism spectrum. SPELL stands for Structure, Positive, Empathy, Low Arousal, Links.
Within the framework, there are key areas identified to promote best practice. The guidance encourages carers to look at ways of adapting approaches and the surrounding environment, to enable us to meet the specific needs of the service users. We intend to use SPELL to guide us, whilst taking into consideration the varying factors of providing care within a high secure environment.
The team have already identified areas for improvement, we aim to make positive changes to ensure a welcoming, calm environment onto the ward. The process of addressing potentially problematic environmental factors is also under way. The aim of this, is to look at each person’s need for sensory input and to be able to regulate this as appropriate for the individual.
In addition, we have reviewed our effectiveness with regards to communicating within this specialist service. During the covid-19 pandemic, staff have been working hard to provide patients with information in a way that supports the needs of the individual, by providing opportunities to discuss, debrief and assess understanding of these changes. In turn, this appears to have reduced anxiety within the patient group around the challenges they have recently faced.
Communication strategies will form a key approach to how we care and support the individuals within our services. Our goal is to ensure that our strategies will continue to evolve and enhance the care we provide, whilst promoting a better understanding of the complex needs of this patient service.
The team feel passionately about creating an inclusive and caring ward ethos so that we can provide autism aware, individualised care to our service users.
Lauren Phillips. Social Communication Support Worker (ASD). Aintree Ward, Rampton Hospital.