Our Neurodiversity Strategy
At Berkshire Healthcare we want to make sure that everyone has equal access to effective services and support.
Therefore, since April 2021 we have we have been working on a Trust Neurodiversity Strategy, focusing on the care and treatment of people of all ages who access our physical and mental health services. When deciding on the priority areas for the strategy, it was essential that we heard from people who use our services and also from the staff who work in the Trust. The first stage of developing the strategy was therefore to give everyone an opportunity to tell us about their experiences and their ideas about where we can improve. We are very grateful to everyone who completed our three opinion surveys for service users, clinicians and members of our wider staff group.
Neurodiversity is a viewpoint that brain differences are normal and to be expected, rather than deficits. It includes attention deficit disorder, autism, dyslexia and dyspraxia and other neurological conditions. These are 'spectrum' conditions, with a wide range of characteristics, which share some common features in terms of how people learn and process information.
What did we find out from our survey?
Our survey showed that as a Trust, we need to:
- Understand autism and ADHD better
- Give clearer information
- Communicate better
- Listen more
- Reduce waiting times
What we will do:
We know that we need to address the physical and mental health inequalities that exist for neurodivergent service users (either suspected or with a diagnosis). We also need to provide support to our neurodivergent workforce.
Our strategy aims to work on the following:
- We will ensure that our staff have an appropriate understanding of neurodiversity so that they are confident in supporting the individual needs of neurodivergent people, whether that be our service users or staff.
- We will focus on ensuring there are no barriers to accessing services for neurodivergent people. The care they receive will be provided in a suitable environment, by people who understand their needs, with suitable adjustments made when needed for them to receive excellent care.
- And we will ensure that Berkshire Healthcare is a great place for neurodivergent people to work, by ensuring there is a safe and accepting environment, and increased awareness and methods of support.
We know our waiting times are too long and we are working hard to reduce them. Waiting times for autism and ADHD assessment services are a challenge nationally and we are very sorry that families are having to wait much longer than we would like.
The children and young people’s service are working closely with the Clinical Commissioning Groups who commission the service in Berkshire, and they have responded by providing significant increased investment. This has enabled us to expand the service and to work in partnership with external organisations to increase our capacity by providing assessments on our behalf, which we believe will achieve a meaningful reduction in waits over the coming months.
We are also working closely with the CCGs for the adult service however while we hope for increased investment, we have not had confirmation of investing yet. We have projects in place to support waitlists aiming to overcome recruitment challenges and increase skills mix in the teams, and we have contracted external providers to see clients on our behalf.
How to access support
Children and young people
Fortunately in Berkshire much of the same support and advice that is available after a diagnosis is also available before an assessment. This includes services commissioned by the NHS and delivered in partnership with local charities, with an emphasis on support being needs-led rather than diagnosis dependent.
For families living in the east of Berkshire, the NHS commissioned service is provided by GEMS.
You can access support with autism from Autism Berkshire.
GEMS is in place to offer support with ADHD and autism. We also offer an information pack to clients on our waitlist with behavioural strategies to support symptoms of ADHD.