A Different July

Jan Millward rounds up a playful and fun July, filled with Olympic games in the garden and gardening shows.

What a year this is turning out to be – an emotional rollercoaster for us all. No-one has been allowed in to see their loved ones and care home staff are having to think of so many innovative ways to engage with their residents and keep them connected with their families. It certainly hasn’t been easy, but so many care staff have stepped up and used fantastic skills to keep everyone going.

July traditionally sees the end of Wimbledon, schools break up and the the summer holidays start – and of course this year, we were supposed to have had the Olympics to look forward to.
But, even with all the changes brought on by lockdown, you can still include any or all of these events in your planning.


Dig out your headbands and fly swats and hold your own balloon tennis competition. Label your residents with famous players names from the past such as Boris Becker, Evonne Goolagong, and Virginia Wade, and let the tournament commence! Don’t forget lots of fluids, and strawberries and cream of course. Ice cream soda and fruit punches will also go down a treat!

Olympic events can include tossing the bean bag, target practice (knocking cans down with a soft ball, skittles, boules), target golf, badminton or croquet on the lawn, or an individual 10-yard dash. Hold one event a day to keep it fresh, and put teams together to compete against each other.

Theme your month, if you prefer, with the tradition of fetes and parties on the lawn. Hold flower-arranging competitions, art and crafts projects to display, best-decorated fairy cakes, best-decorated wheelchair or frame and get your manager to judge them. Small prizes and certificates will be a bonus! Make sure you end your day with lots of tempting refreshments. Take round the prize-winning entries to show residents who can’t get out of their rooms. You could include games such as ‘splat the rat’ and a tombola as well as an ice cream stall and picnic food.

Many residents will be missing their grandchildren and a Zoom meeting just isn’t the same as a hug. In craft sessions, give your residents a purpose by making gifts for them as well as any young visitors from schools. You could turn your hand to making kites (there are plenty of ideas on how to do this online). Or you could fill old stockings with shavings and grass seed for hair, attach googly eyes, and a smiley face, and they can grow their own Granny or Grandad!

Try pressing flowers, such as daisies and buttercups from the lawn, and laminate them on to gift cards. Or get residents to record a message for loved ones – help them write down what they want to say and then record them saying it and send the recording to family members. Encourage family members to do the same – this recording can be played many times, reassuring a resident that their family is well and thinking of them.