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                very beneficial and help employees better understand how to establish good and appropriate relationships.
Also of interest, and worryingly, the study found that the majority of participants did not encounter their first experience with someone with autism or learning disability until they were over the age of 21. This could suggest that despite the introduction of special education units in some mainstream schools, there remains considerable segregation during early years, school and social activities, that prevent people with disabilities interacting with neuro­typical people (people without autism or a learning disability). This evidence should surely be of particular importance and concern to the social care sector as it is during these very years that people begin to have ideas about their future career. Of the 106 respondents, not one was
influenced by advice from school. There would appear to be a large awareness gap to filled, not just about a career in social care, but to raise general awareness of autism and learning disability. Closer collaborations with local education establishments, shared open days and the provision of work experience could be a good way to start.
Furthermore, if employees feel undervalued, low in morale and discontent, it is unlikely that they will be incentivised to do anything other than share disparaging comments about their work and employer. Being a ‘nice’ organisation to work for can be easily overlooked in today’s fast paced society, particularly when there are such pressures on senior managers to focus on the finances. But the dividends reaped from a good reputation are limitless. The very low unemployment rates in Oxfordshire mean there
is a limited pool of people to attract into jobs, the social care sector is finding it hard to recruit to vacancies. Yet despite the difficulties, Kingwood has recruited 65 new employees in the last 9 months (since April 2016) and has a turnover of staff less than half of the industry standard. It must be noted that the additional staff have been recruited to respond to new support services developed for people with autism, not because staff are leaving. However, of those that do leave, many return within 12 months. So how has Kingwood been so successful? In addition to following some of the studies recommendations above, Kate believes the biggest key factor to be the positive working environment and culture, and refers to a quotation from a well­known businessman ‘if you look after your staff, they will look after your customers’ (Richard Branson, 2014).
Kingwood is a specialist charity providing support to adults with autism. Established in 1994 Kingwood now provides support to over 120 autistic adults to live in the community, in their own homes or with families. We work with people with differing levels of abilities, many with learning disabilities and complex needs. We enable people to work toward achieving the goals and outcomes they desire in life, whatever they may be, and we also aim to pioneer best practice in the support of autistic people; influencing policy and promoting awareness.
To learn more about The Kingwood Trust
Telephone: 0118 9310143 or
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