For over three decades, Autism Plus has challenged the status quo by championing neurodiverse individuals and their rights. Passionate in its belief that people with additional needs shouldn’t have to compromise their hopes and aspirations, the organisation strives to take a whole-person approach to beneficiaries, supporting every aspect of their lives.
Established in Yorkshire in 1986 by a group of parents concerned about what the future might hold for their children, Autism Plus has since grown into one of the region’s leading nonprofits for young people with autism, learning disabilities, and other neurodiverse conditions. Recognising that over 70% of adults with autism have additional health conditions, the organisation addresses a wide range of beneficiary needs.
Now with some 450 staff and a turnover of more than £14 million, its mission is more important than ever as it strives to empower more people to live independent, fulfilling lives.
This Nonprofit Trailblazer is using new digital platforms to transform and upscale its service delivery, from supported living services to learning opportunities, activities, professional training, and employment.
Autism Plus runs a range of social enterprises offering exciting and inspiring work placements, including a chocolate factory.
Supporting the Individual Through Person-Centred Care
Offering shared apartments and houses, Autism Plus provides safe, supportive, personalised 24-hour care and support 365 days a year. Through its supported living services, it empowers people to make their own choices about where they live and what support they want from the organisation.
Currently, only 16% of adults with autism are in some form of employment, so a major focus of the organisation’s work is helping people overcome the barriers they face and progress towards employment, education, or further training. Its specialist employment team delivers programmes and services tailored to meet individual needs through one-to-one and group sessions. Support is available for jobseekers and employees at all levels: applicants, new starters, and those already in employment working as interns or apprentices.
Autism Plus also runs a range of social enterprises offering exciting and inspiring work placements, including a chocolate factory, a horticulture centre, a classic-car hire business, and a manufacturer for marching band instruments used by the RAF and Air Cadet squadrons.
Improving Processes for Better Experiences
With demand for its services growing, Autism Plus recently initiated a significant digital transformation designed to ensure the organisation continues to meet the needs of beneficiaries and increase its efficiency in administration and reporting. A key goal of the shift was not only to improve the lives of its service users, but also those of staff. With this firmly in mind, the organisation digitised service users’ care records for the first time, using Salesforce’s cloud-based customer engagement solution Service Cloud.
This change has simplified documentation and record-keeping, significantly reducing time spent on these critical but previously labour-intensive processes. Staff can now access the information they need through mobile apps instead of having to return to the office. Consequently, Autism Plus has succeeded in increasing the amount of time its 380 dedicated frontline staff can spend with the people they support. Those extra hours can make a considerable difference to beneficiaries and employees alike.
When it comes to finding new ways to help people with neurodiversity flourish, Service Cloud is making it even easier for staff to see at a glance what needs are being met and where improvements could be made. Now, with data readily accessible, staff are seizing the opportunity to track the nonprofit’s various service functions. This increased visibility enables them to quickly spot new areas of need for service users, improving decision-making and outcomes.
Importantly, the unified cloud-based system is helping the organisation enhance its transparency and accountability, key requirements for any care service provider. Ultimately, this means Autism Plus can become even more efficient in actioning requests for information, dealing with these in real-time, whether they come internally from carers on the frontline, from HR and finance, or from external bodies such as the Care Quality Commission regulatory body.
By digitising service users’ care records, Autism Plus has simplified its documentation and record-keeping, significantly reducing time spent on these critical but previously labour-intensive processes.
Transforming the Future Through Technology
These early successes with digitisation have already had a transformative impact, but forward-thinking Autism Plus doesn’t plan on stopping there. Future goals include looking at how technology can help improve its CRM capabilities and build stronger relationships with both supporters and customers on the enterprise side of the organisation. Although most of its income comes from the government, donations from the public are essential to cover equipment and other capital expenses.
Autism Plus is now assessing where else technology can be leveraged to enhance its service offering. This includes exploring how smart technology might help those who find communication difficult, something that could prove particularly helpful in understanding and addressing medical needs, such as automatically scanning bodily functions and sending reports to the GP.
It’s clear that Autism Plus’s vision for the future has technology firmly at its core, seeking to ensure people who are neurodiverse get the futures they truly deserve.
Download the Trailblazer Celebration eBook to learn more about how Autism Plus transformed its processes with Salesforce to deliver a better experience for service users and staff.
About the Author
Senior Product Marketing Manager at Salesforce.org
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