Exciting Times!

We have a few busy weeks ahead of us and then a busy year!

The Loddon Conference

Loddon Training and ConsultancyThis week, I am running a workshop at The Loddon Training and Consultancy Annual Conference on Promoting Wellbeing. Presenting isn’t one of my favourite things to do, but how could I resist talking about the work that we are starting to do at Liaise on Mindfulness!

PROACT-SCIPr-UK(r) instructors come from across the country to  listen to renowned speakers sharing new ideas and recent research.

This is a great opportunity for our many instructors to network with other professionals within our sector, sharing the work that we are doing and getting new ideas of how to continue to provide increasingly personalised support.
Liaise 20th

Annual Awards Evening

Next week, we have our annual co-worker awards evening. This is a great time to celebrate the hard work and dedication of everyone who works are Liaise Loddon. This year, we are also celebrating the organisation’s 20th birthday! Watch out for pictures and check out our twitter feed for (hopefully) some live updates on the night.

Another visit to Zambia

IMG_0136And then, the week after that, Marion is heading back over to Zambia to continue the work sharing good practice with the teachers at UTH Special School in Lusaka.

Because of the great successes that they have had, the staff at the school are arrange a conference to share information with others and the Ministry of Education is now interested!

Watch out for an update from Marion later on in November.

New Homes!

We have our new single person service, Marika 3, being built and everything is all to plan and we are aiming for a Christmas opening.

Also, we have now made offers on some new houses. It is our aim to be able to support another 3 or 4 individuals in Basingstoke by April 2016 and then another 4 in the Romsey area a few months later. We are so excited to talk about this, but really should wait until all the legal stuff is in place.

We will be looking to recruit new co-workers in a range of roles in both Basingstoke and Romsey area. Please contact us if you want to find out more – you can register on our recruitment page to get updates on new positions as they come up.

Keep in Touch

So, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, check back on our blogs – it is going to be an really exciting time at Liaise!

Deborah Cornick, Managing Director


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

Moving towards a Mindful Organisation

A few years ago, I was attending the annual Loddon Training & Consultancy Conference, and heard a presentation from Dene Donalds and Melanie Chapman on the increasing use of mindfulness practices in social care.

This struck a chord with me. I was intrigued and wanted to find out more.

So, a few days later, I found a local Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Course (MBSR) and started on a journey that has transformed both my life and my attitude to the workplace.

Being a natural sceptic, what has kept my attention is the increasing amount of research in this area. This is not some flaky, new age fad.

So, what is Mindfulness?

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, who founded the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School,

“Mindfulness is the awareness that arises by paying attention,
on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally”

Sounds simple? And in some ways it is, but in others, it is really difficult. But when you do give yourself some time to stop and just pay attention to how you are feeling and how you are reacting to situations, then, it can be transformative.

There is lots of information on line about mindfulness, so I’m not going to go into more detail here for now. Check it out for yourself, or let me know if you would like me to write another blog on it!

Stepping Stones


After my MBSR course and starting a journey of regular meditation practice, I wanted to find out more. So, I went back to University in Bangor for a year. Bangor University was one of the first places in the UK to set up a research centre to explore and develop mindfulness based approaches.

During the year, I have gradually developed my ideas on how we can integrate some of the ideas and concepts behind mindfulness into our work, mainly focusing on enabling and empowering co-workers to have the skills to manage the high stress situations that appear and also, to enjoy more the successes that happen in the present so much of the time.

We have now run a few general Introduction to Mindfulness Courses as a taster for co-workers from across the organisation and the feedback has been positive and encouraging.

Next Steps

So, what are the next steps?

I am setting up a small focus group of about 10 co-workers, who want to take the lead on how we develop mindfulness within the organisation.

The first step is to let them loose on a full eight week mindfulness course and then, once they have more information and can see for themselves what seems to work, then we can work together to provide a range of tools, training, skills, practices and ethics that will help us move forward.

This is not something that should be done in isolation. Nor is thing something that can be rushed.

We need to make sure that we can actually show that it works and makes a difference to the co-workers, and ultimately, the people we support. This will link into many other activities within the organisation, such as Driving Up Quality, Practice Leadership and the development of a Wellbeing Strategy.

It is not something that will change overnight, it might take a few years for positive change to happen but I hope that it will be an interesting and inspiring journey.

 “Of all the virtues we can learn no trait is more useful, more essential for survival, and more likely to improve the quality of life than the ability to transform adversity into an enjoyable challenge.”

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Happiness


Deborah Cornick, Managing Director


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