Finding Joy in June

As we enter the summer season, and lockdown continues for many of us, Jan Millward shares her ideas for filling the gap left by not having visiting entertainers, and a few things to do as you gently ease some restrictions…

I am sure when you read this, we will all still be in a state of lockdown in our care homes. The safety of our elderly and vulnerable is obviously a huge priority and we must protect them for as long as is needed.

How are you all coping without outside entertainment? I have seen some wonderful, innovative examples of care staff stepping up and using their skills to fill the gap. It’s surprising how much talent existing staff have! Facebook is full of carers who are also trained hairdressers and beauticians who are stepping in, as well as some very talented singers!

One of our local care homes recently made some residents out of old clothes stuffed with paper, with the addition of papier-mache heads and pretty hats. A great project that is fun and cheap to achieve. Many homes are full of rainbow pictures and drawings from grandchildren, and I feel that the support and recognition of the role of anyone who works in a care setting is finally being appreciated and acknowledged, which is a real ray of sunshine in these dark times.


It is not easy to get out and buy new craft materials at the moment, so here is a simple craft that you can make out of things you may already have in stock. Do you have some old puzzles with pieces missing? Or maybe some of your puzzles are just too complex? Paint the blank side of the puzzles in bright colours, and then stick them to card or paper to make pictures – you could use them as the leaves on trees, or to make flowers, houses or spell out people’s names.


Organise a session with a theme. For instance, Laundry Day – how it was then and how it is now. Start by talking about what washing powder brands your residents favoured and why. You could also match them with the poem I’ve included below, which gives it another fun dimension. Read the poem and stop and discuss each verse. For example: ‘How easy is it nowadays to do the washing? It always used to take all day, but now we have different machines to do it with!’ Laminate some washing pictures and pass them around, or hold them up if you’re trying to keep touching items to a minimum. You could even write down the keywords and sentences they tell you and make up your own poem.

Wash Day Blues

I never think of washing
I just stick on a new load
put in a gel-filled capsule
and enter in the code.

Washing now is easy
it isn’t such a chore
but not so many years ago
the work was so much more.

Monday was the wash day
the woman had to scrub
with water hot and soapy
in the old washing tub.

Some they used a posser
others used a board
some used bars of sunlight
it was all they could afford.

And then there was the rinsing
blue bags for white and bright
the turning of the mangle
was often more a fight.

They heated up the copper
way back in days of old
it took all day to do it
or so I have been told.

And then we went electric
with a mangle on the top
with tongs to lift the washing
(the floors needed a mop).

And if the sun was shining
we’d hang it on the line
with wooden pegs or plastic
and a prayer it would stay fine.

If it was really frosty
the clothes would freeze quite hard
and look and feel quite solid
as we ran back down the yard.

The line was up the garden
we cleaned it with a rag
with a prop to take the tension
and make sure it didn’t sag.

The next day came the ironing
cuffs sprayed with Robin’s starch
collars white and curled up
in a stiffened little arch.

The first irons were so heavy
they were heated in a cloth
woollys packed with small balls
to protect against the moth.

The ironing took all morning
they flattened every sheet
even socks and knickers
were made to look all neat.

Do you remember the old twin tubs
that would shake across the floor
but we didn’t really like them
we were always wanting more.

And now we’re automatic
we don’t worry about the grime
but let’s stop and just remember
of what used to take our time.
(Jan Millward)


Together, handwash some small items, such as baby clothes or flannels – do it outside if it’s a nice day. Use gentle soaps such as Lux flakes so as not to irritate the skin. Talk about how it feels, the warm water, the soap suds, the rinsing. Put up a small line and peg out the items to dry. After they are dry, get them folded up.

There are some great songs and rhymes related to the topic of washing too: ‘Rain, Rain, Go Away’, ‘Hang Out The Washing On The Siegfried Line’, ‘Dashing Away With The Smoothing Iron’, ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles’.

Wash on Monday,
Iron on Tuesday,
Bake on Wednesday,
Brew on Thursday,
Churn on Friday,
Mend on Saturday,
Go to church on Sunday.


Many events in June will be cancelled this year, but you could arrange a showing of old footage of the Trooping of the Colour, and put up the flags for the Queen’s official birthday. You could always get out the nice cups and saucers and organise a tea party in her honour!

Summer Solstice is on 20th June, and Father’s Day is on 21st June.

Keep up the good work. You are all doing amazing things under very tricky conditions. And remember (all together now!) …

The sun’ll come out
Bet your bottom dollar
That tomorrow
There’ll be sun!
Just thinkin’ about
Clears away the cobwebs
And the sorrow
‘Til there’s none!
When I’m stuck with a day
That’s grey
And lonely
I just stick out my chin
And grin
And say
The sun’ll come out
So ya gotta hang on
‘Til tomorrow
Come what may
Tomorrow, tomorrow!
I love ya tomorrow!
You’re always
A day