A New November

Jan Millward offers a variety of ways to mark this month of Remembrance – as well as making gifts for Christmas, enjoying Bonfire Night and getting creative with Diwali celebrations – while adhering to any new restrictions you might be facing…

With everyone no doubt worried about the second wave of coronavirus, it is our job to maintain a sense of normality, as well as seasonality for our residents.

“November, to many of us, symbolises a month of remembrance. It is a time to reflect on the lives of those who have served this country in conflicts all over the world, many of whom never returned. It is a poignant time for many residents, who over the years would have attended church services and watched the service of remembrance on television.”


DIY Remembrance Service: You could organise your own service of remembrance, put up displays of handmade poppies (these are lovely), and reminisce about the old songs associated with wartime. Ask your local Royal British Legion branch to give you your own poppy box to take round to your residents.

Silence: Remember to honour the two minutes silence on Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day (11th November).

Resident Remembrance: You may wish to take this a step further and incorporate a celebration of the lives of any residents who may have passed away this year. Try and include something that reflects them. It could be a favourite song or poem or even a slice of their favourite cake or tipple! You could organise this away from Remembrance Sunday and make it more of a celebration of their lives.


While there may not be so many large organised events this year, that doesn’t stop you making a guy and treating your residents to a luxury hot chocolate, while staff have fun outside their windows with sparklers. Reminisce about Catherine wheels, rockets and bangers and make a hearty vegetable soup for supper which residents can drink out of cups, sitting around a bonfire in the care home garden – if it isn’t too cold!


Christmas is fast approaching, and with current restrictions, it won’t be so easy to get your residents out and about buying little gifts for their families. So, now is the time to get creative and start making gifts within your care setting so that they have something to give.

Make your own mincemeat: This benefits from being made in advance of Christmas, because, like Christmas cakes and puddings, it gives it time to mature. Your residents can design their own labels and gift tags and you could cut up rounds of festive material to go on the lids. Find the full recipe here.


14 November – Monet’s birthday, and also Diwali

Claude Monet is very famous for his painting of lily pads. Have a go at painting them yourselves or even making some origami ones!

Enjoy Diwali, the Hindu festival of light, which celebrates the triumph of light over darkness. Just what we need in these strange times. Use up any leftover jam jars, decorate them with glued-on tissue paper or stickers and put an LED tea light inside. Switch off the lights for a moment to get the full effect.

You could also get crafty with rangoli – a traditional art form relating to this celebration. Patterns are usually put on the floor to welcome guests, but you could make them to go on the walls instead. There are lots of Rangoli designs you can print off, or you could design them yourself.

You can either colour in the designs, or fill them with dried peas and lentils, coloured rice, fresh and dried flowers, or even use glue to stick in floral confetti.


It is looking very likely that restrictions on visits to care homes, especially by outside entertainers, will be on the back burner for many months to come.

It is so hard for everyone, both for your planning and the extra work for your team, but also for those entertainers who have been hit so hard by the last six months. I know they appreciate the many creative ways you’ve been able to continue to work with them – from garden concerts to performances via Zoom – and any support you can continue to give as we enter the festive season will no doubt be so appreciated.

And, well done each and every one of you for stepping up and adapting what you do to bring a bit of joy into the lives of your residents. As the old song goes: ‘It Ain’t What You Do, It’s The Way That You Do It. That’s What Gets Results’! A great one to sing with your residents too!