It’s Not My Job

Robyn Taylor, one of our regular activity coordinator columnists, talks about how to encourage all care home staff to do that little bit extra to make someone’s day special, with a series of very simple and effective ways to turn day-to-day life into activities…

Everyone has their own jobs to do. We’re all trying to get as many things ticked off the list for the day. We all have our different uniforms and our different roles, but we are all working to make the environment a nicer, calmer, and happier place for the residents to live.

Quite often, you will hear the phrase ‘It’s not my job’ when it comes to helping with activities. Whether that be because a member of staff doesn’t feel confident standing in front of a large group of residents, or they do not feel like they have the right resources and equipment. A lot of the time people are so focused on their own tasks, that they worry about not having enough time and don’t want to break their routine.

However, everyone can always do that little bit extra to make someone’s day special. Below, I’ve shared a few ideas to inspire the different departments or teams at your care home to get residents involved alongside their day-to-day role. These ideas can fit alongside their everyday tasks, so shouldn’t take that much extra time.


  • When cleaning, hand a resident a duster to get involved or ask residents to pick up small items so you can dust underneath. (This stimulates memories, movement, senses as well as helping you clean.)
  • Sing as you’re cleaning, ask the residents for a favourite tune, encourage them to join in.
  • Ask questions about the photographs that you are dusting.
  • Ask a resident to collect all the old newspapers and help with recycling.
  • When going room to room, hand out the Daily Sparkle. You could even read one of the articles beforehand – it only takes a couple of minutes – and start a simple conversation about it.


  • Allow residents to watch and join in with what you are doing.
  • Talk about the skills and jobs of a handyman, which may stimulate memories for the men in the homes.
  • If you cut the grass or deadhead the flowers, encourage a resident who likes gardening to join in.
  • Allow residents to choose the colour of the wallpaper or paint.
  • Get them to look through catalogues as you work, talking about what they find.
  • When painting garden furniture, let them help. Alternatively give the person a wet paintbrush and they can just draw patterns with the water.


  • Invite residents to suggest meals.
  • Get them podding peas, peeling potatoes etc.
  • Choose a resident to find out what each resident wants for dinner.
  • Let them help by rinsing the dishes before they go in the dishwasher.
  • Bake extra cakes and get the residents to decorate them.


  • Allow residents to help with unlocking and locking the doors morning and night.
  • Encourage a resident to sit next to you at the desk to greet visitors. They could do reading and colouring during the quiet times.
  • They could help you deliver newspapers in the morning.

Home Manager

  • Invite residents into the office in the morning to have a cup of tea with you.
  • Allow them to help with some simple filing tasks.
  • Take them on a walkabout around the care home each day. This helps to show support to the rest of team, and the residents always love to see the manager.
  • Involve residents in meetings.

These are small activities which many homes should do already, but if you don’t, the new year is a perfect time to start. And if you are already doing these things, then do a session with your residents to think of something different that you can incorporate into your home.

An activity doesn’t have to be singing and dancing, it’s about the experience between people – a connection which creates a moment, whether that be through a conversation, creating memories or exploring the senses.

All of us can set a resolution for 2020 to get the residents involved in a way which makes the person feel worthwhile, and physically, mentally and emotionally engaged. And, of course, the most important aspect – to be involved in a way that gives them many moments of happiness throughout their day.