George is a young man with autism, complex communication difficulties and health needs. When he was 19, his family were anxiously considering what he would do when he left his special school. They had looked at the local college, but found it was unable to meet his complex needs. They considered a residential provision, but the complexity of his needs made appropriate placements hard to come by. They wanted somewhere George could live locally, continue to be part of his community and be near his family. They knew that his post-school learning needed to focus on practical life skills and be delivered in a “real” setting, as transferring learning to a different setting is very difficult for George.
George joined a project aimed at enabling young people with complex needs to access individualised funding for all of their support needs, including post school education. Involvement in the project provided access to a budget allocation from education, social care, health and the independent living fund for George.
George joined the local council housing list and become the sole tenant in his own property. His family recruited a team of people to work with him, and they trained the staff to understand his communication, behaviour and his health needs. Because George and his family were in control, they were able to recruit people who liked doing the things that George enjoyed doing.
A learning programme was designed specifically around George, his life and what contributed to making him happy and healthy. Learning was not delivered in separate activities, but through naturally occurring activities in his life.
His parents created a trust through which to manage the employment of staff, and a payroll agency was identified to manage payments to staff and related tax and National Insurance. The project required that education funding should go via a learning institution, in this case a local college, who provided an oversight of the learning programme. Social care and health also contributed by making payments directly to the payroll agency to cover their share of the agreed costs.
The model has been a tremendous success for George and his family, who are very happy with the outcomes. The individualised process has enabled George to access a highly personalised learning programme that is integrated into his everyday life and has provided an effective transition into adulthood. For commissioners it has been a cost effective solution, enabling George to live in his own community close to his family whilst retaining his entitlement to an education which meets his needs and promotes his independence and well being.
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