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Autism accreditation: Making an impact

Karen Lutz, Autism Accreditation Lead at BrandonIn this blog:

  • About Karen and her role
  • Where it all began
  • The call of adventure
  • Making an impact
  • Tests and challenges
  • What Karen wants to achieve
  • Looking to the future
  • More information

Hello. My name is Karen. I joined Brandon in 2008, working with autistic people in Par, Cornwall. Shortly after I started, we were asked by Brandon’s Autism special interest group (a group that discusses how to achieve best practice), to take part in the National Autistic Society’s Autism Accreditation Programme (NAS) in place of another service. We jumped at the chance to be involved.

Where it all began

This is where it all began. During the accreditation programme, I worked with a lot of skilled and enthusiastic people, all wanting to lead the way forward in autism support. At the same time, the Autism special interest group began to evolve and expand into new areas. I’m proud to report that a number of our teams successfully achieved autism accreditation during the process.

Through the years, alongside my team leader role, I’ve worked as experienced autism practitioner, facilitating autism training and working with teams to provide bespoke training. I have also facilitated meaningful support training, working with people to provide a more autism-focussed service.

The call of adventure

My call to a new adventure, came in the form of a secondment opportunity in the role of autism accreditation lead. The secondment would allow me to dedicate the time to support two new services through the accreditation process, facilitate meaningful support training, and the additional opportunity to develop key performance indicators in the area.

I hesitated at first, needing some time to process what was involved. It meant that I’d be stepping way from a role I had been doing for a very long time, into a less structured position, with different responsibilities and scope for development. At the same time, I was really excited at having the opportunity to do what I had been partly doing in my current role.

Making an impact

I met with my area manager, Damian, who is a big advocate for change. We looked at the gaps where an autism specialist could make the biggest impact and how we could improve people’s lives through the accreditation. I would also be able to focus, full-time, on the facilitation of meaningful support for teams!

Having a dedicated person in this post would be crucial. This was my motivation to leave my comfort zone, and step into an unknown, non-operational role – simply because I knew I wanted to lead on autism, in a full-time capacity.

Tests and challenges

I’m sure I will experience many tests and challenges in my new lead role. I’ll be working with other professionals, and there will be multi–agency collaboration, particularly with local councils and commissioning bodies. Funding within services, is another key area I want to focus on.

I’m pleased to say that so far, there haven’t been any conflicts. There may well be some along the way, and I will face them head on, if they arise.

What do I want to achieve?

Having previously gained NAS autism accreditation with one service in Cornwall, four times, and using the accreditation framework with other of teams successfully in Cornwall, I aim to do the same with more services across area. I want to improve knowledge, promote greater understanding of how to provide the right support for individuals, and ultimately, achieve better outcomes for autistic people.

I think that if teams can understand how to best support autistic people, they will have an increased passion for their role.

Looking to the future

Looking to the long-term future, my aim is to support the ongoing development and accreditation of our support services and achieve recognition for Brandon as an outstanding provider for autistic people.

Karen Lutz
Autism Accreditation Lead


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