With trips and travel completely stopping during lockdown, your garden has likely become a vital resource in providing activities and offering plenty of variety for your residents. With a heatwave approaching, Robyn Taylor shares some of her favourite and most simple ways to use the great outdoors.
We have been so lucky with this beautiful weather during lockdown. The summer sunshine picks up our spirits and makes us feel that little bit more positive. It is especially important to allow people living in care homes to get outside as much as possible – there is a huge benefit for everyone’s health in doing this. Of course, it can be hard when there are only a small number of activity coordinators in the home, but remember that most of the activities you would plan can be adapted to be outdoors – even a simple chit-chat session with the Daily Sparkle or a memory box can be moved to chairs outside if it’s a nice day. For some things, you’ll need to plan a little in advance and inform other members of staff earlier, so they are able to help support residents to get prepared.
Here are a few ideas for things that you can be doing in the garden this summer, ordered into Quick Wins (little or no set-up required), Simple Set-Up (a little organisation, which goes a long way) and Making Memories (events that take a little more planning but are worth the effort).
- Sunbathing, daydreaming and enjoying chats in the garden
- Fly a kite
- Watch the sunset or sunrise
- Outdoor yoga
- Gardening, de-weeding, planting in raised beds, growing herbs and veg, building trellises for climbing plants
- Painting furniture
- Arts and crafts outside (tape the paper to the table to prevent it from blowing away in the wind)
- Flower arranging
- Ball games, tennis, bowls, walking football, netball, target games, golf
- Wet a sponge ball and throw it to each other (safer than a water-balloon fight)
- Making and filling bird feeders and bird baths
- Display garden tools and accessories and hold a reminiscence session
- Dog walking (ask a staff member to bring their dog in)
- Outdoor cinema – hang a bedsheet and use the training projector to watch a film. (It would need to be later in the evening to do this)
- Scavenger hunts
- Afternoon tea/cheese and wine evening
- Put a tent up and display objects you would use when camping, such as camping kettles, sleeping bags, foldable chairs etc and use it as a reminiscence session
- Pack a picnic and have it in the garden – make packing the picnic into hampers part of the activity, encouraging residents to help with sandwiches and wrapping up slices of cake
- Metal detecting
- Eat your meals outside
A little note on paperwork – it always feels like a burden, but a simple way to keep track is to make an extra chart with each resident’s name and just highlight if the person has been outside that day/week/month and then you can glimpse at the chart and ensure that those who have not been out are given the opportunity. This way no-one is forgotten.