Sensorial stimulation and provision of home-like activity.
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This activity is for your residents to simply enjoy the aroma of food that is being cooked or baked - not to actively participate in the cooking process.


  • Sensory stimulation
  • Provision of home-like activity
  • Reminiscing


Bread making:

  • Fill your centre with the wonderful smell of freshly baked bread using a Bread Maker.
  • Make a fruit bread or wholemeal loaf to try something different.

Soup making:

  • You will need an electric saucepan or a hot plate.
  • Make sure your residents cannot approach the cooking area by placing tables and/or trolleys as a barricade. You will need a volunteer or two or nursing staff to assist you.
  • I love making soup in winter time, the smell of garlic and onion cooking encourages many residents to come and ‘see’ what is going on. Also the feedback I get from residents is heart warming!
  • Serve the soup with a slice of sour dough or rye bread.

Find for more recipe ideas in the cooking category.

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Comments   Post a Comment

Susan 2nd Aug 2020 Activity Director
Hi Lori
Thank you for your idea it sounds lovely
Lori D 2nd Aug 2020 LNHA
You might try overnight oatmeal in the crockpot. We measure out all the ingredients and place in covered containers. The nursing staff on the night shift pour them into the Crock Pot and set it on low. The residents awaken in the morning to the smell of the oatmeal with cinnamon and apples, or you may use other fruits, nuts or spices of your choice. It seems to stimulate their appetites for breakfast. We use the bead machine also and It makes it seem more homelike to me, when mothers and grandmothers would bake and prepare those wonderful homemade comfort foods.
Joanne 22nd Sep 2016 Leisure and Lifestyle Co ordinator
I have bought one of those patty cake cookers and it works a treat. The aroma of the cakes cooking tantalises everyone. I use this in the dementia wing and have the residents assist by icing the cakes when they are cooked...and of course sampling them is a must. They then have what is left for afternoon tea.
I have also done this with pancakes cooked on a griddle. I cheated with this one and bought a couple of those pancake mixes that you add water and exercise session as well as cooking.
The breadmaker will be the next adventure.
Talita 25th Sep 2016
ha! love the shake and bake exercise!
Pauline 7th Apr 2016 Recreation Therapist
In my facility, if we make something the kitchen won't serve it but we can serve and it is ok, I know doesn't make sense but they won't take the responsibility.
So if we make pies or biscuits or whatever it is as long as I or the nurses are willing to give it out it's ok..... ( the world has gone crazy....LOL0
Fay 6th Apr 2016 caregiver/recreational officer
Can I ask how you get around your kitchen staff. I ran an activity in our high care unit last weekend peeling potatoes. The story went that the kitchen was short staffed and needed some help. It was interesting to see who still remembered how to use a peeler and of course there was the resident who had always used a knife, which we weren't allowed to use! However at the end of the activity we had to quietly dump the 4kgs of potatoes. Our residents used hats gloves and aprons but the kitchen co-ordinator would not sterilise the vegies in sanitiser and use in cooking. How does one get around this attitude? Would love to make crockpot soup but am facing the same problem.
Solange 7th Apr 2016 Diversional Therapist
Hi Fay.
Cooking with residents in the recreation area depends very much on the facility's Manager. I used to work for a multicultural, high care, nursing home where I would make soup every Monday afternoon.

My shift started at 3 pm and I had a little help from the kitchen to set everything up: crockpot, a safety barrier for clients near the hot area etc. I used to give clients potatoes, green beans, onions, peas, carrots, herbs, and garlic to peel and chop.

There was a lot of reminiscing and goodwill. When the vegetables were ready I would wash them thoroughly and use them to make the soup.

The aroma went through the facility, inspiring clients to come and try. I started with seven people and by the end of winter we had sixteen.

Many times I made soup with clients' recipes from Russia, Poland, Bosnia. It was a very successful activity and I kept it the whole winter.

I think Pauline is right, the kitchen staff don't take responsibility for it but if you do it in the recreation area you can serve it. I suggest you have a chat with your Manager. Best wishes.
Julie 12th Jun 2013 Lifestyle Co/Ordinator
I brought in a variety of herbs from the garden and spices ,smell ,touch and taste (if appropriate) the morning was great, residents reminised about recipes and meals enjoyed will do again.We also make pickles ,jams etc when ingredients are in season
Julie 15th Jul 2011 Lifestyle Co/Ordinator
We cooked orange marmalade. The residents loved it on there toast for afternoon tea and breakfast. This can also be used for fundraising as we sold leftover marmalade to staff and families
Lauretta 20th Feb 2011 Diversional Therapist
Smell is a great trigger for memories. I grated an ornage with a fine grater for my residents to smell the orange zest and then the same with a lemon. One memeory was " we had castor oil with orange juice when were children"
We then made a list of all the summer fruits we could remember.from Lauretta
Solange 9th Jun 2010 Diversional Therapist
What a great idea Angela. An activity that maintain old skills, provide sensory stimulation and promote cognitive function such as logic and planning.
Angela 6th Jun 2010 Therapy Coordinator
At the facility where I work, we use a slow cooker. At around 9.30 each Monday morning, the residents help to peel the veges then we put them in the slow cooker with some stock, etc. Before tea, the staff blend it with the stick blender and adjust any seasonings and all the residents in the unit have it as part of their tea. This is very good for building self esteem and involvement in a meaningful activity.
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