Almost three-quarters of older adults diagnosed with autism have never had a community care assessment in apparent contravention of statutory guidance, a National Autistic Society survey has found.
The charity found 71% of adults aged over 45 with a diagnosis of autism had not had their needs assessed by their local authority.
This is despite the 2010 autism strategy saying that an autism diagnosis should trigger the local authority’s duty, under the NHS and Community Care Act, to assess people who may be in need of community care services.
Statutory guidance on implementing the strategy, which councils and the NHS must follow unless there is a good reason not to, states that:
- After making a diagnosis, the NHS body concerned should contact the relevant local authority promptly about carrying out an assessment, with the person’s consent;
- The adult social services department should then contact the person to inform them of their entitlement to an assessment and any carer’s right to a carer’s assessment;
- Healthcare professionals who carried out the diagnostic test should inform the person of their right to request an assessment.
The NAS survey also found that 59% of autistic adults aged over 45 felt they did not have enough support to meet their needs.
The newly published results from the NAS’s 50th anniversary survey have been used to launch a campaign by the charity to recognise the needs of older adults with autism .
“The NAS has seen a dramatic increase in people in their 40s, 50s and even older being diagnosed for the first time, in line with an increased public awareness of autism,” said Carol Povey, director of the charity’s good practice facility, The Centre for Autism. “This means that a large group of adults have been, and are being, overlooked by the government and health services.”
The NAS is calling for councils to carry out regular assessments of the needs of older adults with autism and ensure age-appropriate services are available as part of their local autism commissioning plans, which councils and the NHS are under a duty to publish under the autism strategy.
Improve your assessment skills with people with autism
- Read our guide to carrying out community care assessments with people with autism.
- Attend Community Care’s forthcoming conference on supporting adults with autism, which includes support with assessment, support planning, responding to diagnosis and implementing the autism strategy.