An Alternative August

From photography competitions to virtual travel, Jan Millward provides some simple August activities to help with confusing lockdown rules and regulations, ensuring ever more creative ways to adapt and change…

Are we still in some state of lockdown? I feel it will be a while yet until care homes can be back to full normality, so we may all have to live with the changes for a bit longer. Whatever the future brings, I admire and applaud you all for being so clever at adapting your activities under such difficult circumstances.


At least August usually provides some decent weather! And my favourite way to take advantage of this is to celebrate the beautiful world we live in with a series of virtual travel days…

Let your residents choose their dream destinations and theme the month around them. They may say Blackpool, or it may be Barbados. Be creative and have no limits. Celebrate the culture of your residents and explore new destinations. Maybe some of your residents have been on a cruise? Or trekking in a remote location? Perhaps some of them lived abroad for a while? Theme days or weeks with music, food, quizzes, and crafts to fit the destination.


You don’t have to go far to find interesting things to photograph! If possible, invite in a local photographer (they may let you borrow some of their work if they are not allowed in). Reminisce about box brownie cameras and having to wait a week to get the film developed at Boots the Chemist!

Try and source some old cameras – and also get some simple disposable cameras or Polaroid cameras and let your residents have a go themselves. Ask families and friends to bring in old photos and encourage staff to reminisce with the old albums. Display your photos for all to see.


On 12th August 1908, the first Model T Ford rolled off the production line. It was a big moment for motor vehicles – and maybe one of your residents recalls their own early years of having a car. Maybe there is someone local who has an old car they could drive into your grounds for your residents to see – or talk to local museums and clubs.

Talk about first cars. I don’t know about you, but I can still remember the number plate of my first car! How things have changed. Men used to wear leather driving gloves and often a rug was needed for the knees as they were quite drafty! We used to go for a drive on a Sunday afternoon (the roads were much quieter back in the day) and being a member of the AA or RAC was very prestigious! If you displayed an AA badge and drove past an AA man in uniform, he would always salute you – that is, unless there was a speed trap further up the road, and he wouldn’t salute so you knew to slow down!


The iconic French fashion designer was born on 19th August 1883. Many of your residents will remember some of her most important designs – the little black dress, sailor stripes, Chanel jackets and monochrome. For a fun craft, draw simple outlines of heads and bodies and get your residents to build up their own fashion portfolio. Be led by what they want. Do they want a hat or headscarf? A sari or a cape? Or they may wish to add this themselves. You could also take this one step further and have a fashion show, or simply get samples of different fabrics and talk about the textures and colours.

Chanel’s perfumes would also spark a lot of memories. And you could open this out to other perfumes. See if staff or family could bring their favourites in. Spray some onto a tissue – not directly onto the skin – and use it as a sensory experience.


Make simple planters out of old pallets. Get your handyman (or woman) to help saw up the wood and then sand it down. This is a great way to get the men in your care home outdoors and active and to give them a purpose.

Line the planter with thick plastic or you may prefer to stand tubs inside the planters. Herbs are great, but a trip to the garden centre so that your residents can choose may be on the cards, and would provide a lovely day out.

Decorate the outside of the planters. You could use lines from a poem or hymn, or you could paint on designs.


August is a time of fetes and fairs. If you want a fun game to play at yours, make a human fruit machine! You will need three residents with three separate bowls of mixed fruit (orange, apple, pear). Let them turn their hands around and randomly each pick a fruit. If they all pick the same one, you win!