Engagement of residents in tasks they used to do in their own home. A very calming activity. Ideal for people living with dementia.
This is one of many free activities.
Golden Carers has 1000s of activities and resources for senior care.

This is an ideal activity for people living with dementia.


  • Re-establish old roles
  • Provide a sense of purpose


  • Make sure the surrounding area for the activity is safe
  • Ensure that work area is uncluttered with minimum noise
  • Good lighting is necessary (no glare)


Try one activity at a time, breaking down tasks as necessary.
All activities should be simple and unhurried.
Just guide them, do not attempt to teach new skills.

Don't forget to thank residents for their help and use the opportunity to reminisce about household tasks.

  • Make sandwiches with a loaf of bread and some butter
  • Dust tables and shelves
  • Fold kitchen towels
  • Sweep floors or rake leaves
  • Dry cutlery
  • Chop seasonal vegetables (top and tail beans or shell peas etc)
  • Peel hard boiled eggs.
  • If you have a sink (cold water only), wash plastic dishes bought from second hand stores.
  • Make a large quantity of dough and have 2 or 3 people rolli them into biscuits and placing on trays to be baked.
  • Fold serviettes.
  • Ask kitchen staff to gather milk tops in red, white and blue. When you have around 100 ask two  residents to separate them into their colours. Give them 3 empty plastic containers with wide openings.

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Comments   Post a Comment

Maria 12th Feb 2018 Lifestyle Assistant
I work as lifestyle asst and when we have cooking I supervise the residents involve in cooking. I ask them to wash their hands and dry, wear gloves, apron and hair net. Others are happy watching and enjoy reminiscing. Normally we prepare for their afternoon tea.
Liz 4th Oct 2016 Support Worker
I know most of the activities on this site are aimed at Nursing Homes however, they often work really well for us out in the community too. I do a day long respite for a lady with Parkinson's and also dementia. A lot of the activities listed here are really helpful. Working one-on-one for a whole 8 hour shift you really need to be on your toes. This lady really enjoys cooking so we do that a lot. I find it important to break the day up into sections and rotate the activities to keep her stimulated.
Talita 4th Oct 2016
Thank you for your feedback Liz, this is so lovely to hear. Yes I can imagine a whole day of one-on-one time would require some creative thinking. She is lucky to have you.
Susan 7th Oct 2015 Freelance Activity Co-ordinator
Sally, put up a washing line in a quiet space and supply a basket of clothes pegs and clothes for her to hang up/take down as required.
Sally 6th Oct 2015 Activities Coordinator
I work in a Low Care section of a large Nursing Home and our section is changing. I have one resident who becomes very clingy and desperate especially in the afternoon. I finish work at 3.30 but if necessary I leave a box of socks that I bought from the op show for her to pair up. I'm looking for other housework type things that I can "leave": for her. Hopefully the nursing staff can suggest it if I am away.
Susan 5th May 2014 Freelance Activity Co-ordinator
I have a large bag full of baby clothes and I remove buttons, undo hems and seams, take elastic out etc. I ask the residents if they will help me mend and fold the clothes and they always say yes. They love it.
Libby 6th Jul 2013 Recreation Therapist
Running groups in the community Im looking for more ideas that run towards Social Role Valorisation where ppl feel they have a role to fill.Any ideas?
Solange 17th Oct 2012 Diversional Therapist
Hi Terri, thank you for sharing this activity with us. I also buy peas and green beans when in season for that reason. Residents love this kind of activity.
Terri 17th Oct 2012 Recreation Officer
In our high care dementia unit, we often wash and dry the dishes together in a small group around a table. We have a clean picnic set and a washing up bowl for this purpose (no one has noticed yet that the dishes aren\'t actually dirty).

Occasionally, I\'ll also pick up a 99c bag of carrots and a few spuds when on special at the supermarket and we\'ll sit around a table and peel them \"for tonights dinner\". Recipe books and supermarket catalogues are placed nearby and are a great conversation starter. We\'ll often discuss what we should have for dinner while we are peeling and make a shopping list. *Suitable vegie scraps can be distributed to staff who have guinea pigs/chooks or a compost bin.

Until now I had never thought to prepare a vegetable soup. I\'m not sure on the food handling regulations but we could probably discard the ones the residents have handled and use vegetables I have discreetly prepared earlier. A damper to accompany would be nice too.

It\'s not always easy to put and keep food handling gloves on high care dementia residents, so when cooking I\'ll usually put aside a small portion of the batch for the residents to roll etc and put on a tray, but only the portion that I have prepared actually goes into the oven.

Our residents also love to wipe down tables, sweep the paths, hose the garden and fold baskets of washing (mainly dolls clothes and tea towels).
Leanne 19th May 2012 Team Leader
I would also wonder about the food handling regulations. As my Centre is day based only we only have a small kitchen and an oven which is not fan forced. I have often thought of getting them to assist put the ingredients for a cake into a bowl ie..one client could measure a cup of flour, another put the egg in etc but do this activity at the table as opposed to the kitchen as the kitchen is smaller than a small bathroom. I thought of then passing the bowl around the table and asking the clients to say what they would add as they each give it a stir ie 'I would add love' or "I would add laughter' etc. We could then bake it and have for dessert with lunch. I will add it to the next months programme and see how it goes. :)
Robin 11th May 2012 Diversional Therapist
Food handling regulations for resident cooking groups
Angela 14th Mar 2010 Therapy Coordinator
In our dementia unit, the residents make soup every Monday morning. They peel the veges under the supervision of the DT. We cook the soup in the slow cooker and it is served as part of the evening meal in the unit. After we have finished preparing the veges,the residents help wash and wipe up(later we send it to be washed in the dishwasher).They love it and feel worthwhile and proud of their efforts.
chris 29th Jan 2010 personal care assistant
At our facility we have plastic cutlery, knives forks and spoons the are kept in a bag and the resident is ask to seperate piles, knives, forks spoons. They enjoy this and it makes them feel needed
Marjana 4th Oct 2009 Lifestyle Coordinator
I am planing of getting a small washing basket and filling it in with "washing" (baby clothes,socks, hankies ect) for sorting and after adding few drops of essential oil sensory activity.
Daranee 2nd Jun 2009
i have just started as a DT in a Dementia ward in wellington. i have no previous experience in this role and your site has given me some great ideas. thanks so much!
Kylie 31st Dec 2008
I work for a Nursing Home and am DT sometimes and i discovered that if I leave activities "HALF DONE" (eg: folding towels, wiping down tables, reading mags, ripping out recipies, washing the cuterly(all the activities are done with supervision) ), the Residents will finish off the activity. Singing and dancing is great fun and they love it. Also we will sit and have a talk about "Remenber When", eg: first Xmas, Marriage, Children, Playing as a Child etc.
Jen Freeman 4th Oct 2008 DT
I love the peeling of the hard boiled eggs. You can also have related items such as a sand filled egg timer. I think with the food handling concerns you can try activities where the resident eats only the food they have touched, such as peeling and eating a banana. You can buy plastic silver cutlery or cheap cutlery from discount stores and keep in your DT cupboard for use only with the washing up activity. Food activites are great and I love the ideas on this site, thanks!
Jan Armour 3rd Oct 2008 recreational therapist
I work in a Resthome as a Nurse assistant and will be changing to OT Assistant in a few weeks. Most of our residents enjoy the things we do but can sometimes be hard to motivate them.I was thinking of trying paper machie, and making small mouses out of scrap material, they are hand sewen and stuffed,very easy to do. Your site has given me a few more ideas. thanks
Eleanor 8th Aug 2008
You don't have to use the vegetables that are being chopped, If you boil them after i don't see the problem. Either that or throw them out, I know it's a waste. After they have dried the cutlery it can still be put in the dish washer.
Fiona Benson 1st Jun 2008
staff where i work will not let residents participate in number 5 and 6 of this activity as due to food handle laws what do you think
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