This month, our regular columnist Jan Millward shares her ideas for a busy, happy April, including Easter activities, seasonal games, crafts and plenty of spring inspiration …
The cuckoo comes in April
He sings his song in May
He changes his tune in the middle of June
And then he flies away!
1 April – April Fools’ Day: Not always easy to do in a care setting, but why not turn the tables on the carers and give any resident who likes a bit of fun a chance to play some games? You could give someone a leek to put in their bathroom for example, and get the resident to complain that they have a ‘leak’ in their toilet…? Wordplay and simple jokes like this, that are a bit of gentle fun, get everyone laughing. You know your residents and who it would work with! Or use the day to make fruit fools – get your residents chopping and preparing fruit, ready to be gently stewed. Rhubarb will be coming into season soon, and when stewed and sweetened, it works very well in a simple fool. Once stewed, fold the sweetened, pureed fruits into whipped cream or cold custard. A great way of increasing your residents’ consumption of fruit.
7-9 April – Easter Weekend: Easter Sunday is on 9th April this year. Hot cross buns and fish are traditional foods to have on the menu on Good Friday, and there will be good religious services on the TV on Easter Sunday if you can’t organise one in-house. For cooking activities, you could try doing a Rice Krispie cake nest with Mini Eggs – a simple cooking idea, but just be aware of the choking risk with the small eggs.
Easter Garden: One of my favourite activities! Try making a simple Easter garden – I made one in a wheelbarrow so I could take it around the rooms. Fill a wheelbarrow with compost, plant up with colourful flowers such as primroses, primulas and pansies, and fill the gaps with moss (usually some can be found on a lawn or wall). Make a little path with pebbles between the flowers, leading to a plant pot on its side covered in moss. Place a stone, the size of the top of the pot, at the side to represent the empty tomb.
15 April – Grand National Day: Many of your residents will have enjoyed a flutter on this event in the past, and you can bring the sense of occasion into the care home too. Newspapers often have sweepstake packs, and there are plenty available online too. I cut out the names and numbers of the riders and put them in a hat. Residents get to pick one out, and you write down their name next to the number on a separate sheet. If you have more horses than residents, let them have an extra go, or let the staff have a go. Offer small prizes to those whose horses come first to fourth. And you can even do it for a little money – 50p or 1 is a nice sum.
23 April – St George’s Day and William Shakespeare’s Birthday: A great time to celebrate all things English – from literature to food! You could do a virtual tour of the country with your residents, thinking of local specialities along the way, such as Cornish pasties, Devon cream teas, double Gloucester cheese, Melton Mowbray pork pies, Bakewell tart, Yorkshire puddings, etc. It makes a great reminiscing session and can be followed up with a ‘tastes of England’ lunch or dinner.
April Reminiscence: There are lots of topics you can cover for a bit of English reminiscence.
- Songs such as Jerusalem, English Country Garden, Scarborough Fair and Swing Low Sweet Chariot (which is sung at Rugby Union matches).
- Famous English people. The list is endless, but, as with the food items, you could all try to name someone from your area or from where your residents came from.
- London. Talk about trips to London and read the poem They’re Changing Guard at Buckingham Palace.
24-30 April – Sparkles Gardening Week: The second of our themed weeks of 2023, Gardening Week provides a number of opportunities for you to get outside with your residents. However, do not despair if the weather doesn’t play ball, as there are plenty of indoor activities to keep you busy. Although the week’s theme is gardening, this doesn’t mean you have to spend the week outside doing jobs. Holding a discussion about plants, visiting a garden centre or doing a spot of flower arranging are just as much fun and offer plenty of opportunities for memory-sharing and conversation.
Finally, some lovely April words to share with your residents or display in the lounge….
Home Thoughts From Abroad
By Robert Browning
Oh, to be in England
Now that April’s there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England now!
And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops at the bent spray’s edge
That’s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children’s dower
Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!