Two years ago I introduced my care group to 30 Days Wild, and our residents’ wild adventures began in earnest...
We’re old hands at 30 Days Wild by now. In fact, this year sees us taking part in our third consecutive challenge. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t always new things to discover, or experiences to enjoy. We’ve remained relatively wild beyond that first, incredible June, and are STILL amazed by nature on a daily basis. Our residents find comfort in nature, and love to share their wild memories with our staff members and one another. They enjoy reminiscing about vast gardens and rambling through the wilderness as children, and embrace encounters with all kinds of species. There are word games, musical interludes and crafts to be explored, as well as quizzes and opportunities for identifying long-forgotten species. Nature presents so many moments for calm, contemplation and fun, and we welcome every June, and 30 Days Wild, to remind us how to enjoy nature in different ways.
I was especially thrilled to hear that so many care homes were joining us this year, inspired by the dedicated pack we helped to create for last year’s 30 Days Wild. I always take part in 30 Days Wild with my children, but seeing and hearing about our residents’ wild adventures fills me with such joy. It’s heartening that residents all over the UK, and perhaps beyond, are engaging with nature in new ways, too.
Across our ten homes, activities so far have included cloud spotting, wild artwork inspired by residents’ favourite animals, collages with leaves and flowers, planting window boxes and symmetrical butterfly paintings. Some of the homes have created their own raised beds for veggies or bird and insect feeders, while others have led residents on garden treasure hunts to source items for nature tables. There have been pine cone mobiles, daisy chains and bird watching. One particular home had residents decorating plant pots, before sowing their favourite seeds. We’ve even had stories of wild sensory adventures, as staff and residents make the most of sights, smells and textures in home gardens. My favourite moment of wildness so far has been this wild poem, by resident Fred of Langwith Lodge Residential Home near Mansfield:
Sitting in the bright sunshine,
Gazing at the clouds,
Making faces as they move,
Swishing branches very loud.
Startling lots of chirping birds,
Knowing when to dodge,
It's nice and peaceful sitting here,
Outside Langwith Lodge.
30 Days Wild never fails to inspire staff and residents, and certainly encourages creativity. Time spent outside, surrounded by nature, has an assuredly positive impact upon everyone in our homes. I have adored the many, many works of art that emerge every June and beyond, as well as stories of reduced anxiety, shared moments and plenty of fun. The particularly sensory experiences to be found amongst nature are infinitely therapeutic; that residents with dementia can engage with fragrances, textures and colours is absolutely a blessing for our homes. Activities can be adapted to suit all of our homes, regardless of ability or impairment. This emphasises the fact that nature is accessible for all.
As I sit and write this we are halfway through 30 Days Wild, with plenty of days ahead of us still. Come rain or shine our residents have embraced nature, and have been reminded of the wildlife and landscapes around us that deserve our voices and nurture. Indeed, some of the residents at one home have formed a taskforce, keen to save endangered species and fight biodiversity loss. We’re hoping to host their very own art gallery in the future. Whatever they’ve been doing our staff and residents have risen to the challenge, and we’re all the wilder for it.
We can’t wait to hear stories emerging from care homes everywhere; you’re never too old for nature’s best bits.