Man reading

Everyone and all organisations make mistakes and we should all be honest about that. But in social care, mistakes can have serious consequences. Often social care staff and organisations are supporting vulnerable people with the most important and intimate areas of their lives, as well as supporting people who need help to communicate their needs.

Mistakes in recruitment, in systems and processes are not minor – they can have a huge impact on the lives of people who rely on organisations like ours for their care, 24 hours a day.

Services, like the ones that the National Autistic Society runs supporting autistic adults, strive to meet the highest standards and I want to be sure that we are doing all we can to make them of the highest quality. We are proud that we started the first autism-specific school in the world more than fifty years ago, then the first autism specific adult service and our services’ many achievements since then.

So I was devastated in 2016 to learn about the abuse that took place at one of our residential services in Somerset: Mendip House. Our first thoughts were for the people who lived there, who had put their trust in us and who we had let down. We took immediate action to make sure they were safe, bringing in different staff, who knew the people living in the house, to ensure they were well supported.  After deciding to close the service, we supported individuals and their families to find them a new place to live and help them through the transition.

When we were alerted to the failings at Mendip House, we instigated our own investigations and then supported investigations run by the Care Quality Commission and Somerset Safeguarding Adults Board. Alongside colleagues specialising in support for autistic adults, I have focused on introducing improvements to reduce the chances of anything like this happening again. We have made a number of changes, and we want to continue to improve and learn from autistic people, family members and other organisations providing care. 

Find out more about what we have put in place.

We want to hear from you about what more you think we should do to check the quality of the support we provide, to recruit the right staff and embed the right values in the organisation and to be as open and transparent as possible when things do go wrong.

We will use your views and thoughts to better understand how we improve our care and learn from the mistakes that have been made. We will be organising an event to explore these issues with autistic people, family members and professionals working in care.

We will write up your views and the conclusions from the event, which we will share with organisations across the UK to help to shape others' practice as well as our own.

Who can take the survey?

Anyone can take the survey, but we particularly want to hear from you if you are an autistic person with experience of or interest in social care or a family member or carer – tell us what you think. We’d also welcome views from professionals working in the sector.

What do you think we could do to better to monitor the quality of our services, to improve the quality of our staff and how should we communicate when we do make a mistake?

I can’t promise that our organisation and our staff will never make a mistake again. What I do want to do is to make sure we do everything we can to prevent this, that when things do go wrong we act as quickly as possible to put things right, and that we are open about what we have learnt when things do wrong.

Please answer the short survey. Your answers are completely anonymous.

Thank you if you can contribute. You will be helping us and other providers to provide the best quality care to thousands of autistic people who really need and deserve the best possible support.

Mark Lever

Chief Executive