• Simon O'Donovan

Some interesting feedback

I thought it would be interesting and useful to share this discussion with a new subscriber.

It would be great if others could also share their experiences of using the CST Blog and by so doing use it as a vehicle for learning.

Diane Saralis - 2nd January 2019 Happy New Year! Simon I just started a young onset group before Christmas and will be holding the first one for 2019 tomorrow. Your email was very timely and full of great ideas and topics. So much so I now wonder how I will fit it all in! Just go with the flow I guess. I just wanted you to know that all this information is extremely helpful and in time I will certainly be contributing to the blog! Kind regards Diane Simon O'Donovan - 5th January 2019 Hi Diane It was great to hear from you and to welcome you as a subscriber. I really hope your new group goes well and would welcome any further feedback about the materials etc. It’s worth noting our sessions spread across 4 hours. So are quite spaced. We tend to chunk things up. We start with welcome, introductions and orientation. Then have a themed discussion. Then we have the music round, which is usually the best received. For this we just play one verse and a chorus of each song, unless members are responding well and having a singalong. Then we always have a practical activity session, which is arts and crafts based. We also tend to finish with a relaxation app or mindfulness few minutes. By way of winding down. I guess our lessons are it’s important to be flexible. We aim to involve and include people as much as possible, regardless of memory or language problems. All contributions no matter how small matter and positive feedback is always well received. We try to focus on the multisensory just as much as the cognition. And make it all about enjoyment. We always hope for members leaving the session feeling they’ve had fun and along the way had a workout for their brain. The other thing is not to feel weighed down by pressure of content and materials. Maybe print off the page and highlight the bits you aim to focus on in yellow highlighter. Space for discussion and recall and story telling are just as important. Also we always try to print off some colour images for the tables, have a few things on hand to taste and make the sessions a truly sociable occasion. Very best of luck. Next weeks theme will be MONEY 💰 Will hope to get this out there on the weekend. Kind regards Simon Diane Saralis - 2nd January 2019 Dear Simon Many thanks for this. Can I ask what kind of venue do you hold the sessions in and what times? Also I'm kinda of going along with the CST framework and I will definitely be involving music into each session, but I'm not very sure about the theme song idea. Do you have any thoughts? Also you say your sessions are 4 hrs long. We again are going along with the CST framework and have put aside 14 one hour sessions. If the people who attend agree and want to carry on after the 14 weeks we will need to plan ahead. Thanks for your time Diane x Simon O'Donovan - 2nd January 2019 Hi again We did try the theme song but it does get a bit tedious and it's hard to choose one song for everyone. Our sessions are held in a local day hospital, where we are given a lounge and adjacent kitchen and dining room. It's good to have tables for the practical activity session. I should have said our sessions last 3 hours really (2-6pm each Thursday), as the last hour is a light supper and chat with family members also present. We do run the Making A Difference 14 weeks CST programme (colleagues) as a closed group, then have a monthly CST maintenance session to support ongoing friendships etc. Then for people who are a bit more advanced and in need of more support (and carer respite) we have our weekly Thursday Friendship Group, which is where our Blog comes from. The music has definitely become a stronger focus for us. Hopefully we choose themed tracks which are held in long term memory and can be sung along with. For people with more profound memory and language deficits it's a really great feeling to have those songs rhythms and even lyrics still there. So rewarding and uplifting. We have one client in our group with advanced FTD with no remaining language. Yet she still mouths the words to the songs and cries and laughs as she does so. It's so moving to see such a response. Anyways, hope all goes well. Best regards Simon Diane Saralis - 7th January 2019 Hi Simon Just to let you know, we got some great feedback from the group session. We used quite a lot of the material you provided along side what we had already prepared. The section about the New Year Honours list was particularly useful and when we asked "what would you say is your greatest achievement, what are you proud of" the whole session went in a different direction! We had one lady who's husband is French and after struggling with the language for sometime, she surprised him by having secret tuition then inviting his friends around for dinner and speaking in French the whole evening. Another gentlemen had completed the Three Peaks challenge and one lady said her proudest moment was having her baby twins. Well you can imagine the conversation, YouTube clips and songs that came from this information! We had more than enough material for 1 hour and can make another session with the ideas created. We ended the session by singing the Tina Turner track 'You're Simply The Best', which seemed appropriate. Thanks again Simon much appreciated. Kind regards Diane Simon O'Donovan - 7th January 2019 Ah thanks Diane. That's smashing feedback. It sounds like you had a very vibrant and enjoyable session. It's all about engagement and inclusion, isn't it? And of course recognition of person. And those golden nuggets where individual value is recognised makes our job so much more interesting and enjoyable. Such feedback also helps me keep the blog going. All the best. Simon

About Me

Simon O’Donovan MBE has worked in NHS Wales for most of his adult life, supporting people with dementia, their carers and families and developing and improving services to benefit this client group. 

He recently retired from working as a Community Mental Health Nurse within a Young Onset Dementia Service and continues to contribute to weekly CST 'Friendship Group' sessions as a volunteer co-facilitator.


He has been keeping a weekly 'Young Dementia CST Blog' to share and archive tried and tested activities resources, with the ultimate aim of providing an 'off the shelf' resource library of weekly themed CST sessions which can be used on rotation throughout the year. 


The main aim of this website is to share experience and resources freely, in order that others can dip in and out and use some or all of the materials provided in their own CST work. Thus it is hoped, facilitating and supporting the provision of uplifting and enjoyable sessions that optimise people with dementia's quality of life.

This site is not owned by or affiliated to any organisation. It’s a personal commitment, a not for profit exchange of ideas and a resource library which aims to enable more widespread use of CST approaches for people with dementia. 

To this end, 'Guest Blogs' are VERY welcome, but bearing in mind that no images of clients are to be used without their express written informed consent.

Please note that some images are reproduced on this blog from the internet under the 'fair use copyright' principle, in that they will only be used for educational purposes with disability groups and in no way will be linked to profit making activities.


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