Young person in Priors Courts Multisensory suiteThank you to everyone who has supported our Health and Wellbeing Hub appeal. Please check back regularly for updates on the project.

According to a 2016 survey by The Westminster Commission on Autism, 74% of autistic, parent-advocate and professional respondents felt that autistic people receive ‘worse’ or ‘much worse’ healthcare than non-autistic people.

All young people at Prior's Court have severe autism and often complex medical needs. We aim to be at the forefront of autism research, best practice and delivery and strive to ensure the young people we support have access to the best possible care. The Health and Wellbeing Hub will help us to positively impact the lives of our young people by transforming an existing building on-site into a new and bespoke medical and therapy facility that will enable us to be more efficient, proactive and better able to meet young people's health and wellbeing needs. 

You can view the full plans for our Health and Wellbeing Hub here.

The challenge of accessing healthcare for young people with autism

Accessing healthcare - such an appointment at the hospital, doctors or dentist - can be a stressful experience for young people with autism. Visiting an unfamiliar environment outside of normal routine, crowded waiting rooms and previous negative experiences can all contribute to extreme anxiety.

Even with significant planning and preparation to familiarise young people with the environment they are visiting attending, medical appointments can still pose a significant challenge. For example:

• As many as 50% of dental appointments are not successful due to young people not being comfortable in the dentist chair

• Without sedation, at least 50% of young people fail to give blood for essential medical purposes

Solution

We plan to create a designated medical treatment room within the hub to replicate external healthcare settings, so we can support our young people to become comfortable with dentist chairs, examination beds and waiting areas.

Impact

Young people are better prepared for essential visits to external healthcare settings, therefore reducing anxiety and increasing the success rate of such visits. This means they are able to receive the best possible medical care, where and when they need it.

In doing this, we can enhance our ability to lead the way in helping young people with autism access health facilities and share best practice to benefit the wider autism community.

Medication

The young people at Prior’s Court all have severe autism and complex learning difficulties – as well as an average of another four diagnosable conditions. This means that even with multi-disciplinary input from a team of therapeutic professionals, many still have a high requirement for medication, with an average of four different medications per student. Our current medication storage space is shared with the treatment room within the school building, which means that it is not accessible if the area is in use.

Solution

We plan to create a dedicated in-house pharmacy within the new hub, which will be accessible at any time. The implementation of a barcode system will help us to better manage the high volume of medication and treatments.

Impact

The pharmacy will provide increased accessibility to medication. A new method of stock control will help to increase organisational efficiency, providing an improved system of logging and dispensing medication.

Delivery of therapies

A team of on-site therapists support the school, including Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, a Music Therapist and Positive Behaviour Support team, supported by a Consultant Clinical Psychologist. Three Nurses also work alongside the team.

The in-house therapy team are currently spread across the site, leaving few opportunities for collaborative working. Additional therapists are brought in as required to support individual needs. There is currently no dedicated space for visiting therapists, meaning clinics will often take place in unfamiliar locations across the site which can be challenging for our young people.

Solution

We will create two therapy engagement rooms, offering opportunities for observation by clinicians, parents, local authorities and researchers.

A new shared workspace will be created for the nursing team, Positive Behaviour Support team, Speech and Language Therapy and Occupational Therapy teams.

We will be able to provide additional storage for medical records and equipment.

Impact

Increased ability to host external consultations on-site, giving young people easier access to appointments.

Greater consistency for our young people, using designated rooms for consultations.

More appropriate and effective interventions and strategies for our young people as a result of a multi-disciplinary approach to working.

Therapies, medical and behavioural interventions will be delivered in a blended, holistic way rather than in isolation.