This is an article written by Linzi Holt, Positive Support Lead at Liaise Loddon Ltd for her co-workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Homes have been growing sunflowers and sharing the experience as a team activity during lock down.

“I looked into the garden this morning and was met by this sight – I thought my poor sunflowers were in urgent need of water – but no, the soil was damp. So why are they looking down?

Then I discovered they had fallen over in the wind during the night (hubby had corrected them), so make sure your pot is heavy and the flowers are staked! These I grew in a white plastic bag – no weight!


This incident caused me to reflect: They are called sunflowers – because they follow the sun… and you can see that in just four hours of sunlight my beautiful sunflowers had sorted themselves out, sussed where they were, identified what was important and got on with making the most of a complex situation, what I thought was wilting when seen from one perspective was in fact striving and succeeding when the full picture was revealed. From lying down, they had turned and reached out for the sun.

And that’s partly why I chose the sunflower challenge. Sunflowers are like Liaise co-workers – you have adapted to COVID conditions with amazing resilience and skill. The photos of all the activities at home have been amazing. We all know that being restricted in our movements has helped us reflect on what really matters and supports and motivates us. Please do not lose sight of what you have established in your homes as the world becomes more available to us. Shops are opening but will be used in a very different way – before returning to a bigger world check out why we would do this, view it from all angles – don’t assume like me with my sunflower, that we know the cure –  if I’d given it more water, I would have ended up drowning it! The world is slowly opening but before we get back out there… check we have considered all the viewpoints (and remember, we may face temporary lockdown again).

What do we need to do?

  • We must not be going in and out of shops too frequently
  • Review the service user activity schedules? This does not mean an immediate return to pre COVID-19 with lots of community trips as COVID-19 is still here.
  • We can support service user visits if they need new clothing for instance or new games, but this should not be daily. Please be aware that changing rooms will remain closed for the time being, so nobody will be able to try clothes on until they arrive back home
  • We should support service users with a social story explaining to them that they may need to wear a mask (practice this in house)
  • Within the social story you need to include queuing to go into the shop/social distancing/people wearing masks/one-way systems, and that coffee shops or cafes may not be open

So, if you are thinking of introducing trips to town, ensure that you review the service user’s community risk assessment and ask yourself things like:

  • Will this visit increase their risk of contracting COVID-19 – Yes/No
  • Meeting more people wearing masks, all walking in lines (as set out in shopping centres) – will this cause them too much stress – Yes/No?
  • Do they understand social distancing – Yes/No
  • Will they wear a mask – Yes/No
  • Are they able to stand and wait – Yes/No
  • They will not be able to roam around a shop, but will have to follow the same route as others will they do this– Yes/No

Within a webinar I recently joined a number of participants were commenting on how many people with autism are actually thriving in current conditions – happy at home! Safe and secure! Making the most of the easy access to the free resources their homes offer – hobbies, gardens, rest relaxation. A woman who organises a Facebook page for parent support reported that a significant number are saying, particularly in relation to girls, that they are so much calmer since lockdown started.

Dr Pooky Knightsmith– a very skilled, eloquent autistic woman gave a presentation within the webinar, she was brilliant at presenting yet when it came to discussion after the presentation you could see signs of anxiety about the topic of returning to the community, she admitted her anxiety, and I thought that was a great thing to reflect on for our service users! So please, you must ask yourselves, if service users are comfortable in their daily lives currently, is there a need to rush back to more stressed times? You know each service user in your home best – but please value the climates you have created and don’t lose them in our rush to conform. Like the sunflower, strive for the lifestyle we know suits each of our service users and the key aim should be safety and security. You have been providing that in gallons – thank you”.


Liaise Loddon has 11 care homes based in the Basingstoke area and Romsey in Hampshire and are part of Sequence Care Group.  Find out more at about our work and the homes. Or to find out more about a career with us, email

Co-worker achievements celebrated

Over 250 of our co-workers were recognised for their outstanding achievements on Friday 16 November 2018 at our annual awards evening, held this year at Novotel Southampton.

The team were presented with awards for outstanding achievements by guest presenters including Stephanie Regular, NatWest Assistant Relationship Manager (North Hampshire CBC), Graham Stead, Client Relationship Director of CMI (IT service providers), Paul Temple from Basingstoke & Deane Rotary Club and Director at Basingstoke Gymnastics Club, and Michelle Payne, Area Manager, South West Adult Services – National Autistic Society.

Our founder and Chair of Directors, Marion Cornick MBE opened the evening by thanking everyone for their contribution to making the company so successful in the important work they do supporting some of the most vulnerable individuals in the community.

Addressing the co-workers at the awards, Marion Cornick MBE said: “We couldn’t do any of what we do without the amazing dedication and support of all of you.  Thank you for everything you do, and keep up the excellent work”.

Marion also presented her daughter, Deborah Cornick, Managing Director with a special Business Development Award.  Presenting the award, Marion said “When my husband Tim passed away in 2001, Deborah gave up her career to help me run the business.  Under her guidance we have grown the company to the current 11 homes that we have and are now a major employer with over 260 people working for us.  This is to say thank you for everything Deborah has done and continues to do for the business”.





Marion Cornick, MBE, Chair of Directors with Managing Director, Deborah Cornick




Deborah added her thanks to the room saying “This is our opportunity to thank all of you for doing such an amazing job in the homes and offices all year.  We really appreciate everything you do.  And of course, we mustn’t forget those co-workers who couldn’t join us this evening for one reason or another – particularly those who are working caring for our very special people“.

A number of awards were presented on the night including Best Newcomer and Making a Positive Change, but sweeping the board for yet another year with an impressive three awards was Basingstoke Shift Leader, Martha Amaazee who won in three categories all focused on excellence in delivering personalised support.

Triple award winner Martha Amaazee with Paul Temple, from Basingstoke & Deane Rotary Club and Director at Basingstoke Gymnastics Club

The winners of the Teamwork award were ‘Applelea’, one of the Basingstoke homes.  They were presented their award by our Positive Support Director Henrik Holgersen who said “This year Applelea underwent a large redesign and build project making the environment even more bespoke to the needs of the people who live there. Throughout the build the team remained positive and did an outstanding job supporting the service users ensuring any disruption to their lives were well managed. The team also put a lot of work into preparing the service users for their new environment.

With the manager, the team worked very hard to prepare for their 2-day long CQC inspection which earned them a well-deserved excellent report, more evidence, as if it were needed, of the great team effort at Applelea.   

Deborah Cornick and Henrik Holgersen with the winning team from Applelea

Chair of Directors, Marion Cornick also presented a donation to Bone Cancer Research and Oxford Hospital charities.  Graham Stead who accepted the donation on behalf of the charities said: ”This is a cause that I am personally involved with raising funds for and we are very grateful for the donation which will be put to good use.  75% goes to Bone Cancer Research where the money is used to fund research, provide guidance and support to those impacted by Bone Cancer, and to raise awareness of the disease and its symptoms.  25% goes to The Oxford Hospitals Charity, who are are very directly using the fundraising to help with care on Kamrans Ward – the childrens cancer ward. They are replacing the monitoring systems that are used to care for the kids. Each new monitor costs about £5,000 and is a significant improvement on existing monitoring equipment. So far, we have raised £95,000 for the two charities in total, including Gift Aid, so the 25% for Kamrans is nearly £25,000 which has fully paid for 5 of these monitors; nearly half of the number required to fully re-kit Kamrans!”.











Graham Stead & Marion Cornick MBE


To find out how you can start a career with us, go to this link

Intensive Interaction and Challenging Behaviour – A case study

The following is a case study of a female client, SA, who has diagnosis of severe learning disabilities, autism and associated communication difficulties. SA is non-verbal and communicates through objects of reference, body language and challenging behaviour, in form of self injury behaviour or aggression to others. Some of the challenging behaviours include banging her head, biting and scratching areas of her body, hitting, biting and hair pulling and or head butting others.   A pattern emerged over time where the reduction in one form of self injury behaviour was often replaced by other high risk behaviours (e.g. acrobatics).  SA experiences periods of extremely distressed and unsettled behaviour- defined as amber and red arousal states. These periods last from few hours to couple of days, followed by period of time when SA is settled.

At times over the last twelve years these periods would sustain for up to several months, with little respite from her distress.  Numerous investigations into possible underlying health issues were undertaken but no problems were ever identified which would explain the situation.  The close supervision often needed to support SA in all her activities e.g. personal care, eating and drinking, and bathing after frequent smearing behaviour meant that she experienced regular demands throughout the day, that resulted in challenging behaviour that subsequently reduced the opportunities for positive staff interactions.

Despite these challenging episodes, SA is still very sociable, and one of her strengths is her ability to develop close and lasting relationships with co-workers.  Close contact with and support from co-workers is extremely important to SA but during extended periods of challenging behaviour these relationships came under severe stress.  Despite these challenges, the whole team of co-workers would persevere in working with her, and try to work out why SA was feeling so distressed.

In June 2015, SA presentation suddenly deteriorated, where she exhibited high level of self injury behaviour (biting self and banging head on hard surfaces) and aggression directed to others. Due to high frequency and severity of presented behaviours she was referred to Learning Disability Team and Intensive Support Team. Both teams, carried extensive work (functional assessment of challenging behaviour including observation, staff systematic sessions, communication assessment and medical investigations, including dental treatment, blood test undertaken under general anaesthetic) to find causes of sudden onset of the self injury behaviour. No new information about the causes or functions of SA’s stressed behaviours was identified during this process, although it was already understood that her stress was linked to communication needs, attention and interaction.

New strategies were implemented by the positive support co-ordinator and teams at the home to reduce level of SA’s anxiety such as: small circle of support (only few co-workers were supporting SA), changes in the environment (she moved from main building, which she shared with 5 other service users, to annex in the garden).  In addition medical interventions (Olanzapine) were applied. New strategies reduced SA self injury behaviour but aggression directed to others remains on the same level.

The change of living area for SA was accompanied by a reduction in the SIB as she was able to spend time away from noisy and unpredictable environments, but her stress remained high whenever she saw non-preferred co-workers.

During this period, work was also done by the teams to identify the key characteristics of the co-workers that SA would accept, which included a calm, quiet demeanour and an ability to support SA at her own pace and without a perception of demands.  Being highly responsive and supporting SA to take the lead proved a successful approach when carried out by this small team, and challenging behaviours gradually reduced.

Small circle of co-workers, who worked with SA over last 18 months. From left: Alex, Emma, Katy, Zoe, Lorraine (behind), Diana, Maria and Emma B (not at the picture)

In May 2016, co-workers received extensive Intensive Interaction training from Mr Jules McKim from Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust.  The aim of training was to encourage staff to interact at an appropriate developmental level for SA, and to demonstrate to SA that interactions are not all demands based, and provide her with opportunities to learn fundamental communication skills and enjoy her time with others.

After the intensive interaction training, there were three scheduled follow-up meeting with Mr McKim, where co-workers was able to reflect and discuss what was working. Intensive Interaction session recording forms and videos of SA and co-workers were available for review and discussion, where different intensive interactions techniques were discussed. During second meeting in December 2016, co-workers reported that interactions with SA were ‘amazing’ and SA is more seeking out face to face contact and interactions. At this time SA was still supported by a small core team of female co-workers with whom she had close and trusting relationships, but would also by now seek out and accept support from less preferred co-workers in the wider teams. The last follow-up meeting took place in February 2017, where co-workers again shared their experiences and how they felt about intensive interactions. Here are few quotes from the session and Intensive interaction session recording forms:

‘I am happy that I and SA had a good session… that SA led the session.’

‘Really happy and proud that SA was laughing and looked so relaxed’


‘Staff were happy as she allowed them to interact with her…even for the staff she targets.’


‘I felt happy seeing her calm and change in her behaviour’


Since co-workers have been using the Intensive Interactions approach, SA learned that interactions did not have to be based on demands and she gained control over interactions and to a lesser extent, the environment. Currently she presents herself in calm and settled mood with occasional days where is more anxious, but level of challenging behaviour directed at others is much less frequent and severe.

Figure 1, shows SA’s arousal level from June 2015 to April 2017. Amber arousal level- unsettled, anxious not able participate in offered activities, red arousal level- distressed, highly anxious.

Katarzyna Kowalska

Positive Support Coordinator

Doing what we do

At Liaise we are proud of our reputation as a specialist service so we were very pleased to receive the following email recently praising our coworkers for their professionalism and positive attitudes.

This was from a former teacher of a new service user who has recently moved into one of our services (published with her permission).


I’d just like to share my thoughts and feelings on a current transition of one of my pupils to Marika House.

marika-house-newI’ve been A’s teacher for 3 years having come from mainstream to suddenly be teaching a highly challenging class at Tadley Court School with A as one of the most challenging pupils in the school. I immediately developed a very close working relationship with A regardless of the daily behaviours he demonstrated. He has come a long way. So much so he is now (mostly) to be able to self manage his anxieties.

For the past 3 years I’ve been anxious about A’s transition into post 19 provision.  I needn’t have been. The transition plan that was put in place by Marika, rather than ourselves, has been second to none. Each and every staff that has met A, or myself, have told me how excited they are to get to know him. This has given me even more confidence that this is the best place for A.

I have every confidence that Marika house is the best place for this special young man. I’d like to pay a particular thank you and commendation to Lizzie who has ensured a flawless transition as well as developing an immediate positive  relationship with my special boy!

Many many thanks


Desert Island Developments

If you could take one thing onto a desert island what would it be?  A favourite book?  A musical instrument?  A hammock…sunscreen…a knife?  These are all pretty common suggestions.

Let’s consider the functions of these items for a moment…A knife will help build shelter and fires, catch and prepare food and will even help to make other tools.  Sunscreen will help keep you safe from the sun.  A hammock is obviously for sleeping in (you could also arguably use it as a net to catch fish).

Below is Maslow’s infamous diagram illustrating his ‘Hierarchy of Needs’.  This diagram attempts to categorise our needs and places them in sequence.  The argument is that people find it hard to reach the upper echelons of need unless the lower needs are first met.


A hammock, knife and sunscreen all help to meet needs from the lowest two sections on the diagram.  Ultimately they have the potential to directly improve your chances of survival.

Books and music on the other hand seem a little useless from a hardnosed survivalist perspective…they are not nutritious and don’t taste great.  They are not typically associated with procuring or preparing food, they don’t increase your safety (granted a swift swipe of a guitar might fend off certain predators in the short term but it is not its typical use) or meet any of our physiological needs.

So what point do they serve…and why are they two of the most common responses?  The answer is clearly and simply for entertainment.  Whilst we are hardwired for survival, when we think of what is important to us, our happiness is right near the top of the list.

Over the coming months within Liaise, we will be driving this message forwards with a passion…our service users need more than just safety, more than just nutrition and hydration, more than just activity rota’s and communication aids.  They NEED happiness.  Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs has a lot going for it (I personally am incapable of being happy when I am hungry) and so these lower needs are important, but they are not the end goal we are aiming for.  We need to aim higher up on the diagram; Happiness is our goal.

happy-boy-1434104Our co-workers need to be happy too.  Why?  You will often hear people talking about how someone’s mood rubs off on other people.  This is true and is one reason (happier co-workers equals happier service users).  Happy co-workers will also mean lower employee turnover which means improved consistency for our service users.  Another reason is there is growing research that highlights just how stressful being a carer can be, and that highlights stress has a direct impact on your health.  Positive thinking and being happy is actually proven to help you to be physically healthier and can combat some of the health conditions which manifest as a result of stress.  Conceptually this flips the hierarch of needs diagram on its head!  This means to achieve good health it helps if you are happy first!

It is generally pretty accepted that people with Autism lead lives that can be filled with heightened and prolonged stress and anxiety.  Surely this must impact their health every bit as much if not more than stress affects ‘neurotypical’s’ health.  So happiness must be even more important for their health than it is for our own.

This is why we need books, and guitars, and games, and each other.  It is all about happiness.  So when you are next recording what someone ate, how much sleep they got, how they communicated their frustration, consider also recording what made them smile, what made them laugh, what made them HAPPY.

Paul Smithson, Specialist Learning Disability Managerhappiness-1227786

Living Wage and Pay Increase

Liaise Loddon is currently embarking on the process of becoming accredited by the Living Wage Foundation. As part of our commitment to becoming a fully signed up Living Wage employer, we are raising the lowest hourly rate paid to our support workers to £7.85 per hour, in line with the current Living Wage level set by the Foundation. This means that all our co-workers, no matter what qualifications or experience they have, will be paid at least a Living Wage. As part of a sector in which many companies routinely pay only minimum wage to care workers (at the moment only around 20 care home providers out of  5000 nationally are signed up to the Living Wage), we believe that by committing to the Living Wage we are helping to improve working conditions not only for our own co-workers, but for all care workers by leading the way for other employers.

To find out more about the Living Wage Foundation visit their website at


Health and Wellbeing

We rely on a dedicated and supportive team of co-workers to provide high quality care and support for the service users in our homes.   It is therefore important to us in return to provide a great place for our co-workers to want to work and be part of our journey.

We recently and very proudly achieved our Investors in People Bronze Award.  This involved over 20% of our co-workers spending time with the Investors in People Specialist and telling her what it was like for them to work at Liaise.  We were so please at how well everyone represented themselves and spoke so proudly about the work they do and the support they get to do their job.

Building on this success and not being ones to sit back on our laurels, we are now looking at our health and wellbeing strategy to develop it further so we can continue to encourage a high level of engagement between the company, the homes and teams.

We will be working on making sure we have the right resources to support wellness at work and promote work-life balance that can be accessed by all.      balance-4-smallhenge-1564613