We caught up with Saskia, Service Manager at one of our autism specialist homes, Elmsmead, about the autism journey herself and her dedicated team of staff have been on.
Elmsmead are one of our 34 services currently working towards the National Autistic Society’s (NAS) autism accreditation – an internationally-recognised process of support and development for those providing specialist services to autistic people. In addition to this, Saskia has recently completed her level 5 diploma in health and social care, and the team at Elmsmead have all have undertaken our mandatory autism training.
What was your motivation for completing your level 5 diploma?
To gain more knowledge within my role as a manger and to promote a learning environment for both staff and the people we support. I wanted to show people that although our jobs can be hard at times, there is always room for improvement and the ability to expand on knowledge regardless of our work load.
I'm aware one of your modules was on autism - did you find this useful back in the workplace?
Within my level 5 qualification I had to construct a research project - I chose to base my project around The Autism Act 2009.
More than 50% of the individuals who live at Elmsmead are diagnosed with autism and I felt this was a subject of high interest and importance to me as a manager and leader of a staff team supporting individuals on the autistic spectrum. Additionally, I thought it could also benefit our current accreditation process with the NAS.
I also hoped that researching this would expand my current knowledge but give me the opportunity to be able to promote the act and the legislation it upholds.
Have you seen any changes at your service since joining the NAS accreditation programme? If so, what changes have you seen?
I have gained further knowledge of individuals with autism and more information regarding the autistic spectrum. I’ve gained further communication methods to interact with the people we support on a person-centred level and the confidence to share this.
I have seen my staff team change and transform from a good team, into a fantastic team who are able to recognise behaviours and respond in a professional, engaging and person-centred way, taking into account the different scales of the autistic spectrum.
Has your outlook changed since you began working towards NAS accreditation? If so, in what way?
I always knew there was a monumental amount of research and knowledge available in regards to autism, however we’ve learnt even more that I was anticipating. Before we began the NAS accreditation process I knew that our team worked hard to achieve the best possible outcomes when supporting individuals with autism. However, I am now able to proudly say with confidence that my team and I have become specialists within this subject due to the information we’ve learnt on our accreditation journey and the processes we’ve put into practice as a result.
Tell us a bit more about Elmsmead?
Elmsmead has an enthusiastic, fun-loving staff team full of knowledge, passion & the want to succeed for the people we support. Elmsmead is a great home for countless reasons - the amazing standard of care, the dedication from the team, the understanding about and for the individuals we support. We are an enthusiastic bunch of people with a passion for making sure each and every one of us has a fun and meaningful life.
The people that live at Elmsmead are the motivators behind everything we do and it wouldn’t be the same without them being such an amazing bunch of individuals with all of their liveliness, their own passions, their individual characters and quirks.
What's the best thing about your job?
Where do I start? Since I started my first day at Elmsmead as a support worker I knew this was where I wanted to progress in my career. I knew my future would continue to involve supporting the amazing, unique individuals who live at Elmsmead.
Elmsmead immediately filled me with a passion and the want to learn more about autism. I quickly learnt that once you’ve met one autistic person, you’ve met one autistic person. No other saying is truer.
Both the individuals with and without a diagnosis of autism at Elmsmead have made me the person I am today, filled me with knowledge, laughter and a strong sense of being within my role. Each and every one of them have many, many achievements to be proud of.
And then there’s the staff team who have all been INCREDIBLE - all members past and present. The team at Elmsmead are hard-working, fantastic individuals who have remarkable individual qualities which together makes for the best team, who work together to provide the very best care and support! Elmsmead would not be where it is today, and to the standard we have achieved as a team without every single one of them!