Jan Millward is looking forward this month, as vaccination programmes and the very first signs of spring start to bring hope and a renewed sense of positivity.
February can be a cold, bleak month, and yet, the first spring bulbs are starting to flower. Look out for snowdrops and crocuses peeking through the snow and frost, and maybe, to welcome in the new season, you could run an art class painting these brave little flowers. (But be warned, some residents believe that bringing snowdrops indoors is bad luck!)
As the weather improves, now is the perfect time to give your residents a brief change of scenery, even a little potter around the garden to breathe in some fresh air can offer a happy diversion. Walk around together and see what shoots and buds you can see starting to appear. Talk about favourite flowers and which ones your residents are looking forward to seeing.
“I am hoping that by now the vaccination programme is well underway and the first visitors and entertainers can soon return to your homes. It is going to take a good few months until any sort of normality will return, but we are going in the right direction!”
This year, how about trying something new and celebrating Waitangi Day on 6th February? This is a national holiday in New Zealand and marks the signing of the treaty of Waitangi, the founding document of the nation. It’s a great way of exploring a different culture and some of your residents may have links over there.
- Do a quiz or have a reminiscence session about New Zealand.
- Here are a few keywords to stimulate memories: sheep, kiwi fruit, volcanoes, hot pools, Rotorua, Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown, southern alps, All Blacks rugby team, kiwis, silver fern, Maoris, the Haka, traditional New Zealand art and music, North and South Island, Fox and Franz Josef glaciers, Mount Cook.
- Make a silver fern – the silver fern is one of the national symbols of New Zealand. Draw an outline of a fern and paint or colour it in. Cut out the shape, and make a collage. Hide a couple of kiwi birds in the picture for your residents to spot.
- Try a taste of New Zealand – New Zealand specialities include rocky road cakes, lots of meat-based dishes (sausage sizzles, lamb casseroles) and fruity milkshakes.
- Make lamingtons – these are basically a sponge cake, coated in jam and sprinkled with dessicated coconut. Easy to do and yummy to eat.
CHINESE NEW YEAR
Chinese New Year falls on 12th February. This year, it is the year of the Ox.
Chinese New Year is a great excuse to try different foods – find out everyone’s favourite Chinese dish. You can also print-off some fortunes to have a lucky dip, and even spend some time discovering what everyone’s animal is. Here is a simple zodiac calculator.
Valentine’s Day on 14th February is in most activity coordinators’ diaries! Though it doesn’t just have to be about love – you can always call it a Friendship Day if your residents aren’t keen on lots of hearts and flowers. Though, I am sure many homes will be full of roses, romantic poetry and pink iced cakes!
That said, be careful not to go too overboard. Valentine’s Day can be painful for some, and may bring back the grieving process of the loss of a life partner. If you want to instead focus on the fact that Valentine’s Day is also about expressing feelings to someone you love, you can adapt the event in your care home to celebrate the love of friendship. Read our guide to a Friendship Day here.
Pancake Day on 16th February is an excellent opportunity for some fun with cooking and flavours. As well as making the batter and experimenting with different fillings, let your residents have a fun game of tossing the pancake. Use a small lightweight frying pan and a cold cooked pancake, and take it in turns to toss it on to a plate.
Make a game of it by measuring who covers the biggest area of the plate – that’s if any make it that far!