May’s Person of the Month – Florence Nightingale

This month we are celebrating Florence Nightingale and the incredible work she did.

Use the ideas below to involve your residents in discussing and celebrating Florence Nightingale.

Key Facts

Florence Nightingale was born on 12th May 1820. She was an English social reformer, statistician and the founder of modern nursing. Nightingale came to prominence while serving as a manager and trainer of nurses during the Crimean War, in which she organised care for wounded soldiers. It was during the Crimean War that she earned the infamous nickname ‘The Lady with the Lamp’.

She is the author of over 200 works and famously recorded that she was called by God to be a nurse.


The following video offers an interesting and informative dramatisation of Nightingale’s life. Play this to your residents – either in a group session on a large screen or individually using tablets.


Use today as the opportunity to research your residents’ life histories. Do any of them have a nursing or medical background? Discuss this with them, and allow plenty of time for reminiscence on nursing memories.

If possible, gather some props and prompts for medical reminiscence –

Modern versions of arrowroot, Epsom salts, calamine lotion, Lucozade, Alka-Seltzers, Milk of Magnesia, cod liver oil, syrup of figs and rosehip syrup are easily found. Print off pictures of older versions which may look more familiar to your residents. Can anyone recall what each product was used for?

They may recall more natural treatments, such as dock leaves (used for soothing nettle stings), a gold ring (rubbed on a sty) and an onion (placed under the bed to absorb microbes).

There are many nursing-related proverbs and sayings that some of your residents may remember –

An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Laughter is the best medicine.

Feed a cold and starve a fever.

Coughs and sneezes spread diseases.

Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

Can your residents think of any others?

Encourage your residents to chat and share their memories, allowing plenty of time for reminiscence.

Music and Movement

Organise a simple chair-based exercise class to show the benefits of keeping mobile.

Choose music that goes with the theme. Suitable examples include Give Me Oil in My Lamp, Keep Me Burning and When the Saints Go Marching In.

Think of a simple routine of arm-based exercises to the tunes of Miss Polly Had a Dolly and Just a Spoonful of Sugar.


Celebrate today’s modern health service with an afternoon tea. Decorate the tables with paper lanterns with battery-operated night lights inside. Invite a representative from your district nurse team or local GP surgery to come along and say a few words about their profession.