Runner Bean Walls and Feta Cheese Salad at Sansa House

Everyone living at Sansa House has made super progress with the sensory garden – and they’ve even started serving meals from the raised beds.

One of the people we support planting spinach in a raised bed

Planting spinach

After spending time planting out the beds, we’re being rewarded with beautiful colours, delicious scents and tasty treats.

Just two weeks after planting, we’ve already harvested some of the spinach. It went into a truly delicious spinach and feta cheese salad. Yum!

Raised beds with purple flowers, herbs and spinach

Colourful raised beds

Elsewhere in the garden, the runner bean walls are coming alone well.

TD created a trellis from bamboo sticks, which will form the framework for the runner bean walls.

One of the people we support pushing bamboo canes into the ground

TD creates the trellis framework

The runner bean wall framework is up

Looking good!

Next, KG, TD and LH got planting. The runner bean seedlings went in safe and sound. TD gave them a good sprinkling of water – and there’s a job well done!

The people we support planting runner bean seedlings for the trellis wall

In go the runner beans

We’re looking forward to seeing progress, and we’ll be sure to update you. We’ll also be cooking up a storm with runner beans before the summer’s out – so keep an eye open for our runner bean recipes.

Sansa House goes paperless – and discovers a new use for iPods

Did you know that iPods are good for much, much more than simply playing music?

We didn’t – until recently. But now they’re changing the way we do things at Sansa House and they’re a big hit with everyone: the people we support, our staff, and our directors.

A few months ago, we took up a free trial of Person Centred Software. We were impressed, so it’s just gone live at Sansa House.

So far, the staff are really positive and believe that it’s a great modernising step for them. It also makes their jobs simpler, because they’re able to more easily monitor the people they support. Plus, there’s much more space for diary entries so there’s much more information available about the people we support and everyone can access it.

What does Person Centred Software do?

Person Centred Software (PCS) created Mobile Care Monitoring, which gives staff more time for care – because they spend less time on administration and they have more information about the people they support when they need it.

Essentially, it gives us a better picture of how the people we support spend their days and nights. And that allows us to keep improving their lifestyles.

And how do iPods fit in?

At Sansa House, we’ve chosen to use PCS with our iPods. The software sits on the iPods and goes everywhere with our staff. It’s proving really useful for all kinds of things, from the vitally important stuff right down to little fun touches that make everyone smile.

Measuring happiness and keeping everyone in the picture

Carly sits on a chair studying her new iPod.

Carly gets to grips with the new monitoring system

We’re using our new system to measure happiness every day, with positive monitoring. They make it easy to analyse participation in activities over time, so we can build a picture of our service users’ lifestyles. Identifying trends and patterns means we can tell who takes part in what, and find out which activities each individual prefers. That makes it very easy to create tailored programmes for all the people we support.

All our service users’ schedules are on the iPods now, and the staff are find that extremely useful. They can easily:

  • Check which tasks are upcoming for each person they support
  • Flag important tasks, such as when medication is due
  • Add extra information about each service user as and when it comes up
  • Take more pictures! The iPod camera is easily accessible, so we’re taking many more photographs of the people we support doing the things they enjoy (and they love photos of themselves)

But perhaps most exciting is the fact that all this information is available to ALL registered users through a weblink. Liaise’s managers and directors now have a full and immediate picture of what’s going on at Sansa, so they can make sure that all staff have everything they need.

In every industry, there tends to be a gap between management and the people who work in the field. Our gap was pretty small anyway – but now we’re hoping to close it completely. It’s so important for everyone in the organisation to feel involved in our everyday activities and stay close to the people we support.

The verdict? So far, we’re loving it! Watch this space to see if we roll it out to all our houses.

If you’d like to know more about how we’re using Person Centred Software, just give us a call on 0845 094 9295 and we’ll happily talk you through it.

And remember to sign up to our free newsletter if you haven’t already – we’ll keep you up to date with the latest news from our homes, and advice and information about autism and learning difficulties.

How to create a sensory garden with herbs and vegetables

Do you remember our sensory garden project at Sansa House?

Last month, we built some raised beds and made great progress. This month, we’ve started planting…

A Sansa House service user is using a trowel to plant some mint.

We’ll be able to add tasty extras to our meals soon

Some of the people we support have been planting herbs and vegetables including lavender, sage and rosemary. The idea is that the garden will smell gorgeous as well as providing us with veggies for the dinner table.

Everyone is rolling up their sleeves to get involved with this project. When the people we support help to create their own environments, they feel more connected to it. Plus, of course, they learn new skills.

A service user in pink trousers kneels with a trowel to plant herbs.

One of the people we support is getting to grips with planting seedlings

Staff at Sansa House and the people they support will be having a competition to see who can grow the tallest sunflower – we’ll have photos of that soon, too.

So what’s next in the sensory garden?

We’ll be creating a living wall from woven bamboo and runner beans to section off the garden. Tune in next month to see how we did it, and how you can do the same in your garden.

Stay in touch by signing up to our email newsletter here.

Do you know how your senses work?

If you know or work with somebody with autism, you’ll know that they often find it difficult to process everyday sounds, sights and smells. It can have a profound effect on someone’s life.

Did you know you have major seven senses?

  1. Sight
  2. Sound
  3. Touch
  4. Taste
  5. Smell
  6. Balance
  7. Body awareness

Some people are under- or over-sensitive in any or all of these areas.

Your brain processes all the sensory information (sounds, sights, smells) you receive and then organises and prioritises it. So you can understand that information.

Then you respond to it, with thoughts, feelings, behaviour or a combination.

Your body picks up sensory information – stimuli – through receptors. Your hands and feet have more receptors than any other body part. Most of the time, we deal with stimuli automatically.

Sensory overload

But many people with autism find it difficult to deal with all this information. They may become stressed or anxious – and they might even feel physical pain. That leads them to respond differently from you and me. What we see as challenging behaviour is actually a reasonable response to an overload of information.

To help the people we support cope with their sensory stimuli, we are creating a sensory garden. It can help to stimulate, develop or balance people’s sensory systems.

So at the first sign of spring, we dashed out into the garden at Sansa House and started a project.

The people we support are working with our colleagues to create a sensory garden. We started with raised beds and we’ve made them from scratch. You can follow our progress here.

Measuring and marking

Our support worker, Odette, helps T. to measure up the wood they need to create the raised beds in the garden.

Our support worker, Odette, helps T. to measure up wood for the raised beds

Cutting the wood to size

K. cuts the wood to the correct length under the watchful eyes of our support workers.

Support workers supervise K. as he saws the wood into the right length.

Putting it all together

This type of work is brilliant for helping the people we support to develop new skills. But more than that, they get involved in improving their home and personalising it. Here, L. tries her hand at drilling, with a little help from Odette.

Odette, a support worker, steadies the drill while L. fastens two planks of wood together.

Everything in its place

T. and Odette roll up their sleeves and take the finished raised bed frame over to its final position in Sansa House’s garden.

T. and a support worker carry the raised bed frame across the garden.


Now for a bit of digging…

With the frame in position, it’s time to start digging.

A support worker supervises T. while he starts digging the ground up inside the raised bed frame.

We’ll be working hard on our sensory garden over the next few months – keep an eye on the blog to see how we’re doing.

Don’t forget to sign up to our free newsletter, too – we’ll keep you up to date with everything we’re doing.

Sansa House Open

Sansa House was opening in April 2013 and is Liaise Loddon’s 9th house in Hampshire. From the old, tired building, we have created a modern, extensive 5 person unit, with each person have a large bedroom, personal living room and ensuites, along with shared dining room, activity room and two gardens.

And now, in October, the home is full!