The emergency department at The Royal London Hospital is the first in London to be accredited by the National Autistic Society for its care of autistic adults and children.
The team received the 'Autism Inclusion Award' which shines a light on health services that are not specialist services for autism, but take extra steps to ensure autistic patients are not disadvantaged whilst in their care. There are only two hospitals in the UK ever to receive this accolade, The Royal London being one of them.
When visiting The Royal London Hospital, assessors were impressed by:
- The sensory room in the paediatric emergency department which families report to be a calming environment
- The team’s attitude and commitment towards working in different ways to ensure an autistic patient receives the best and most comfortable hospital experience
- The prominent role autistic champions have in the team and the support and training they provide
- The partnership formed with London Ambulance Service and London Air Ambulance to run The Physician Response Unit, which gives patients the option to be treated in their home, if hospital is too distressing
These changes have improved the experiences of autistic patients coming to The Royal London Hospital, with a noted example being a young patient with severe autism attending the hospital with a painful and infected toe. The patient was prioritised due to their needs and offered a quiet area with sensory equipment. This calmed the patient so they could be treated in a clinical area. Once the patient had been treated, a follow-up appointment was organised with the Physician Response Unit, to avoid the stress of coming back into hospital. This tailored response alleviated stress for the patient and their family, enabled better assessment and resulted in a healing toe.
Giles Armstrong, paediatric emergency consultant said:
“I am very proud of all the hard work so many people in ED and the hospital have contributed to this project.
I do not regard this as the end of our journey, but as an important point in our journey to being an inclusive department. I look forward to more improvements over the coming years.”
Sarah Gamester, lead nurse for the paediatric emergency department added:
“We are thrilled with the changes and improvements that our team has embraced over the last few years, as we have sought to improve the experience for autistic people.
“The biggest thing that we can all do is care and stop and listen to our patients about their individual care needs and choices.
“We can all make small adjustments that have the potential to make the world of difference for some of our patients, families and carers.”
Christine Flintoft-Smith, head of autism accreditation at the National Autistic Society, said:
“The Royal London Emergency Department should be exceptionally proud of their achievement. The National Autistic Society’s Autism Accreditation programme was launched over 30 years ago and sets extremely high standards, which the department has worked incredibly hard to meet.”