The Cedars celebrate Advanced National Autistic Society (NAS) accreditation!

The Cedars team with their certificate

We are thrilled to announce that our specialist autism service, The Cedars in Mansfield, have achieved Advanced accreditation with the National Autistic Society (NAS)!

The Cedars were first accredited by the NAS in 2019 and the team’s continued commitment to improving the lives of the people we support has seen them go one step better to achieve Advanced status!

We caught up with Service Manager Gemma Wheatley, and Deputy Manager Michaela Stevens to find out the key to their success, and exactly what Advanced accreditation means for the team and the people we support.

How does it feel to achieve Advanced accreditation with the NAS?

G: It was such an amazing feeling to find out we’d been accredited and had achieved the Advanced NAS accreditation status.

Some of us weren’t with the team when we were last accredited, so experiencing this moment together was incredibly special for us.

We’re passionate about providing life-changing experiences for the people we support. The team’s collaboration was key to this achievement. Being awarded Advanced accreditation really demonstrates the team’s specialist autism knowledge.

Is the assessment different for Advanced NAS accreditation?

M: For Advanced status, there were some additional case studies we had to submit and a few of the questions were more in depth. Overall though, the assessment was the same as when we had our initial accreditation back in 2019.

G: What really made the difference this time round was the amazing feedback we received from the people we support and their families! Having evidence of such positive feedback supported us to reach an assessment criteria level that qualified us for Advanced status.

It was so heart-warming to receive such lovely comments. They really showcase our commitment to providing high quality care for the people we support.   

What support did you receive in the build up to your assessment?

M: Throughout the whole process we were supported by Raj, the National Autism Lead for Voyage Care. Since Raj also works as an external moderator for the NAS, he had incredible insight into both autism support and the assessment process.

G: Raj was already familiar with our service. He knew our capabilities and whole-heartedly believed we could reach Advanced status. He was brilliant and his experience and knowledge was invaluable. It helped us think out of the box with the support we offer to everyone living at The Cedars.

Michaela Stevens quote 1

M: His consistent praise of the work we were doing and telling us “we could do it” really motivated the team. He explained everything clearly and was on hand to answer any questions we had. Having that element of faith from someone as experienced as Raj was a big motivation.

We submitted our paperwork which included case studies, detailing the achievements the people we support have accomplished through the care we’ve given them. Once Raj was happy, we began preparing for assessment day.

How did the assessment day unfold?

G: An NAS assessor visited the service and spent time with our team and the people we support. They observed us and made their assessments while the people we support took part in activities we’d arranged for them.

We decided to take a risk by introducing new activities that the people we support hadn’t done before! It felt like we were jumping straight in the deep end, but we wanted to showcase exactly how we’re getting the people we support to try new things and build their confidence.

I think it was our approach to communication that was key to our success. Prior to the assessment day we made sure the assessor was aware of any triggers the people we support had. For example, one person doesn’t like being called “autistic”, so we communicated this with the assessor, ensuring the situation didn’t occur.

M: We explained everything to the people we support, so they felt comfortable with the activities they would be doing, assuring them we’d be right by their side.

One person engaged in a baking activity where they followed a list of instructions to make sausage rolls. They really thrived at this and loved the experience. Once they cooked the sausage rolls, they shared them with the assessor, their support team, and their housemates. It was a really special moment for everyone involved.

The second activity was pot painting and everyone got really creative. This was an activity the people we support hadn’t done before and they excelled! The artwork was amazing, and it showcased people’s passions.

Michaela Stevens quote 1

We are so proud of what everyone has achieved, and it highlights our dedication to providing high-quality care – helping the people we support achieve their goals and live fulfilled lives.

What tips would you give to other services considering NAS accreditation?

M: Give yourself plenty of time! The documents you’re required to fill out are quite lengthy, so ensuring enough time to get them all completed is really important.

And don’t be put off by the written work! Instead, use it to gain confidence on what you’re doing right. By going through this process, we realised we were already doing a lot of what was needed – we just needed to get it down on paper!

G: Lastly, reflect on the opportunities to improve. Look from the perspective of the people we support, and constantly question what they need to live their best lives.

What goals do you have moving forward?

G: One of our goals is to showcase our successes more. When the people we support achieve their goals we want to shout about it! Recently, Charlotte, one of the people we support, found a passion for diamond art and this was published on the Voyage Care website. We want to make sure more amazing stories are being acknowledged and celebrated.

Another goal is to get the people we support more involved in the local community. Not only does it support them in building confidence, but it also gets them familiar with the people in the local area. Social interaction is important for autistic people. It helps them develop valuable skills.

So far, to support this goal, we have got them involved in a local walking group and community litter picking drive. We’ve also reached out to local Facebook groups to seek further opportunities within the community. We’ll keep striving to find meaningful opportunities that empower the people we support with choices – we want them to have incredible lives.

Find out more!

To learn more about our specialist autism support, and how we can support you, a loved one or a client, complete our quick and easy online form and a member of our friendly team will be in touch!

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