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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  • Simon O'Donovan

Spring & Easter

(Click on the image above for pictures to print off for the tables)

This week's CST activities page has a theme of Springtime and Easter. Spring lasts from the vernal equinox on 20th March to the summer solstice (midsummer day) on 21st June. Easter Sunday this year falls on 21st April 2019. Before exploring these themes, we caught up with the news.

NEWS ROUND UP Sadly Notre Dame, the gothic cathedral in Paris, had been badly damaged when engulfed in flames. Firefighters did their best to save the main body of the building and put the fire out with some thirty minutes to spare before it was entirely consumed. We asked had anyone visited this magnificent historic building, or Paris. We remembered the other more modern cathedral, Sacre Couer, the Mon Martre district, the Metro and of course the Eiffel Tower. We also remembered that Notre Dame is famous for it's association with the Victor Hugo 1831 novel 'The Hunchback Of Notre Dame'. Tiger Woods had a massive return to form this week, when he won The Masters Golf tournament. Michael Jordan said it was "The greatest comeback I've ever seen". On commenting upon his first major tournament win in 11 years, Woods said "It's going to take a bit of time to sink in." We asked if anyone had achieved a comeback to form like this, or if anyone had won a trophy, medal, award or certificate for their achievements. There was major disruption in London this week, caused by climate change protests. Over 400 arrests were made when members of the 'Extinction Rebellion' glued themselves to trains and occupied major landmarks. One protestor even glued himself to Jeremy Corbyn's garden fence. We discussed the impact of climate change, the fear for future generations and our planet generally, as well as whether direct action like this achieved anything. Next, we discussed the 'Pollen Bomb' which is expected to arrive this holiday weekend, with good weather and the highest temperatures of the year forecast. We asked which members suffered with hayfever and whether any treatment or other remedies help. As well as taking an antihistamine, nasal spray or using eyedrops, we discussed the importance of staying away from grassy areas, closing windows and having lots of tissues on standby. Finally, we noted that Salisbury, the city which was the scene of the Russian nerve agent attack a couple of years ago has been named the best place to live in the UK. Salisbury in Wiltshire was chosen by the 'Sunday Times Best Places To Live Guide' because it "remains a divinely attractive and welcoming place". We asked had anyone visited Salisbury, or if anyone intended to. Also we asked members to suggest the place that they would vote as 'The Best Place To Live'.

IDIOMS ABOUT SPRING AND EASTER Ask members to complete the following phrases ... He's no spring - CHICKEN (A person who’s not exactly young anymore.) He's got a spring in his - STEP (Someone who looks as if they are happy and full of energy.) Spring to - MIND (To appear suddenly in your thoughts, immediately think of someone or something.) Like a coiled - SPRING (Someone who is wound up or highly strung.) Full of the joys of SPRING (To be very happy and enthusiastic.) As clean as a - WHISTLE (Describes something which is fresh and new, or has been cleaned to such a high standard it looks as if it is.) Wipe the slate - CLEAN (Have a fresh start or a new beginning.) Like a rabbit caught in the - HEADLIGHTS (A person so surprised or frightened that they can’t move or think.) Pull a rabbit out of the - HAT (Come up with an unexpected solution to a problem.) Don’t count your chickens before they’re - HATCHED (Don't make plans that depend on something good happening before you know that it has actually happened.) Don’t put all your eggs in one - BASKET (Keep your options open.) Have egg on your - FACE (Look stupid because of something you’ve done.) Don't teach your grandmother to suck - EGGS (Don't offer unnecessary advice to someone who’s older and more experienced.) Walking on - EGGSHELLS (Be very diplomatic so as not to offend.) You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few - EGGS (In order to achieve something, something has to be sacrificed.) Mutton dressed as - LAMB (An older woman dressed in clothes more suited to a younger woman.) A wolf in sheep's - CLOTHING (A person with a pleasant and friendly appearance that hides the fact that they are evil.) Black sheep of the - FAMILY (The undesirable or disreputable member of a group or family.)

DISCUSSION We moved on to discuss things that remind us of Spring: Longer days, warmer days, spring flowers, lambs, catkins, bird nests and chicks, sorting the garden out, planting the beds, mowing the lawn for the first time, smell of cut grass, Easter, Easter eggs, Easter bunnies and Easter bonnets. We commented on the argument going on currently about re-branding of 'Easter Eggs' as 'Good Eggs', so as to remove religious connotations. Members felt that traditional words should be used for things associated with this ancient Christian festival. The spring flowers we thought of were: daffodils, crocuses, tulips, cherry blossom, snow drops, bluebells and primroses. We reminded ourselves of the Welsh word for Spring - Gwanwyn.

Happy Easter in Welsh is - Pasg Hapus And the French word for Spring - Printemps. We remembered that the clocks 'Spring Forward' in March and 'Fall Back' in October. We thought about the meaning of 'Spring' and how it features in the English language. Spring symbolises rebirth, fresh starts, new beginnings. - Spring is in the air. - Spring has sprung. - Spring tides (highest of the year). - Springer Spaniel (gun dog). - Spring lamb (3-5 months). - Spring clean. - Spring onions (gibbons). - Spring greens.

QUIZ What is Easter Week known as in the Church? HOLY WEEK What is the Sunday before Easter called? PALM SUNDAY What does the Queen do on Maundy Thursday? GIVES MAUNDY MONEY She symbolically gives silver coins (Maundy money) as alms to selected elderly recipients. Which meal is commemorated on Maundy Thursday? THE LAST SUPPER Where would you find the original of this painting, and who painted it? THE SANTA MARIA DEL GRAZIE MONASTERY IN MILAN, ITALY LEONARDO DA VINCI What is possibly Leonardo Da Vinci's most famous painting and where would you find it? THE MONA LISA, THE LOUVRE IN PARIS Who wrote the 2003 book 'The DaVinci Code'? DAN BROWN (Has anyone read it or seen the 2006 film, starring Tom Hanks as Prof Robert Langdon?) What do Catholics do in Church on Good Friday afternoon? THEY FOLLOW THE STATIONS OF THE CROSS What do Christians traditionally eat on Good Friday? FISH What is the 40 day period in the lead up to Easter Sunday known as? LENT (Did members give up anything for Lent, as was commonly the tradition of this religious period of fasting and penitence?) From where does The Pope give his Easter Blessing on Easter Sunday? THE BALCONY IN ST PETER'S SQUARE, THE VATICAN Who is our current Pope and who is he named after? POPE FRANCIS, AFTER SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI What is his real name and where does he come from? JORGE MARIO BERGOGLIO, FROM BUENOS ARIES, ARGENTINA (Born 17th December 1936) Can anyone think of any symbols of Easter? - A palm formed in the shape of a crucifix - Hot cross bun (crucifix on top of the bun) - Easter egg (in the shape of the stone which rolled away from Christ's tomb) Who starred as Jesus in the 'Jesus Of Nazareth' TV series in 1977? ROBERT POWELL Who starred as 'Ben Hur' in the 1959 film of the same name? CHARLTON HESTON Which 1979 Monty Python film mirrored the life of Christ? LIFE OF BRIAN (Some though the film was sacrilegious at the time and it was banned in many countries and some areas of the UK. What did members think of it?) In the hit UK sit come 'The Vicar Of Dibley', what did Dawn French dress as on Easter Sunday morning? A WHITE RABBIT (As the Easter Bunny she distributed Easter Eggs around the village.) Which 1970 rock opera did Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice create which focused on Easter week? JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR Which London theatre did 'Jesus Christ Superstar' open in in 1972 and who was the first Jesus? THE PALACE THEATRE IN LONDON'S WEST END, PAUL NICHOLAS (Has anyone seen the stage show or movie?) Which BBC TV programme celebrates spring? SPRINGWATCH (Presented mainly by Simon King, Chris Packham, Kate Humble and Michaela Strachen.) Also which BBC TV sitcom 'The Goodies' comedian features as a 'twitcher' (birdwatcher) on 'Springwatch'? BILL ODDIE (The other 'Goodies' were Graham Garden and Tim Brooke-Taylor.) Who is the Roman Goddess of Spring? PRIMAVERA Who composed 'The Four Seasons'? ANTONIO VIVALDI Why would you count sheep? TO HELP YOU GET OFF TO SLEEP What flower does the spice Saffron come from? THE STAMEN OF THE CROCUS Who was Gus Honeybun? A RABBIT PUPPET (He was the mascot of Westward TV, later Television South West, from 1961 to 1992.) Who was the ventriloquist behind 'Lamb Chops' (puppet)? SHARI LEWIS Which US TV cartoon series is set in Springfield? THE SIMPSONS The character 'The March Hare' comes from which story? ALICES ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND (Published in 1865, written by Lewis Carroll.) Which author created 'Peter Rabbit'? BEATRIX POTTER ('The Tale Of Peter Rabbit' was published in 1902.) How much is a Cadbury's Creme Egg? 50P (In Asda - or 3 for £1) If you found an all white Cadbury's Creme Egg this year, what prize would you get? £1,000 (People have been unwrapping the sweets in shops!) Where would you find Palm Springs? CALIFORNIA What is a Springbok? AN ANTELOPE (Or a member of the South African national rugby union team.) What is Jerry Springer famous for? AMERICAN CHAT TV HOST What is rock singer songwriter Bruce Springsteen's nickname? THE BOSS Which BBC Radio 4 show is about rural life and farming? THE ARCHERS Where is it set? AMBRIDGE IN BORCESTERSHIRE Which 'sport', often seen at a village fete, involves an egg? EGG AND SPOON RACE (Other similar activities include 'Three Legged Race' and 'Sack Race'.) If you wanted to cook a hard boiled egg, how many minutes would you boil it for? 6 OR 7 MINUTES (According to Delia Smith, 6 minutes 'if you like them squidgy in the middle', 7 minutes if you like them 'cooked through'.) How would you traditionally know the time an egg was cooking for? EGG TIMER Which bird lays the largest egg? OSTRICH (The ostrich lays a 2kg egg, which is equivalent to 24 chicken eggs!) Do members recall the 1984 book entitled 'Conundrum: Cadbury Creme Egg Mystery'? Don Shaw was the author and Nick Price the illustrator. Ten golden eggs were buried around the UK and puzzlers had to solve the riddles, visual clues and red herrings to find them. Each egg was 22 carat gold and worth £10,000 What about the 1979 book 'Masquerade', by Kit Williams? Which prize was revealed in the pages of this beautiful book? A HAND CRAFTED BEJEWELLED GOLDEN HARE (Worth £5,000 at the time, but sold for £31,900 in 1988 and is probably worth a lot more than that now!) (For both treasure hunts, there were masses of people digging up ground in places they believed the treasure to be, leading to hunters being banned from National Trust land.) What kind of 'treasure hunt' do children participate in on Easter Sunday? EASTER EGG HUNT (It might be good at this point to take a refreshments break and give out some Easter Eggs? Other refreshments could include buttered Hot Cross Buns. Perhaps eaten alongside the song ... Hot Cross Buns Hot cross buns, Hot cross buns, One a penny, Two a penny, Hot cross buns. If you have no daughters, If you have no sons, One a penny, Two a penny, Hot cross buns. If your sons don't like them, They're the only ones, One a penny, Two a penny, Hot cross buns. I don't tell jokes and I don't tell puns, One a penny, Two a penny, Hot cross buns. Get them while they're hot and eat them by the ton, One a penny, Two a penny, Hot cross buns.

MUSIC QUIZ Link to Spotify Playlist https://open.spotify.com/user/1154769589/playlist/3zS9GJpReCxz3ja2SIMt9y?si=8u_rK2XdSXi39GppTmsgqQ Easter Parade - Judy Garland People traditionally wore an 'Easter Bonnett' on Easter Sunday. Can members name as many different types of hats they can think of? BASEBALL CAP, BEANIE, FLAT CAP, BERET, STRAW HAT, TRILBY, COWBOY HAT, TOP HAT, FASCINATOR, PORK PIE HAT, FEDORA, SUN HAT, BOWLER (Does anyone like to wear a hat?) Morning Has Broken - Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam) Which bird in this song has 'spoken, like the first bird'? BLACKBIRD Annie's Song - John Denver In which US state would you find the capital city Denver? COLORADO Little April Shower - Film Soundtrack Which Disney film featured this song? BAMBI Sweet Caroline - Neil Diamond What item of clothing would you find Neil Diamond forever in? BLUE JEANS You Make Me Feel So Young - Frank Sinatra Have some fun with the group by asking members to guess the ages of those facilitating the group... How D'ya Like Your Eggs In The Morning - Dean Martin & Helen O'Connell Go around the room and ask members how they like their eggs? FRIED ('Sunny Side Up' or 'Over Easy'), SCRAMBLED, BOILED (? with or without soldiers), POACHED ('Eggs Benedict' is poached eggs with Hollandaise sauce), OMELETTE Bright Eyes - Art Garfunkel Who wrote the book 'Watership Down'? RICHARD ADAMS Loving You - Minnie Riperton Ask members to sing along with the chorus, as loudly as they can... You've Got A Friend - James Taylor Who wrote this song? CAROLE KING My Sweet Lord - George Harrison In which garden did Judas betray Jesus? GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE I Don't Know How To Love Him - Jesus Christ Superstar Soundtrack Which character sings this song? MARY MAGDELENE Day By Day - Godspell Soundtrack What year was 'Godspell' first performed on Broadway? 1971 The Old Rugged Cross - Traditional Hymn On which mount in Jerusalem was Jesus crucified? CALVARY Christ The Lord Is Risen Today - Traditional Hymn What do Christians celebrate on Easter Sunday? CHRIST'S RESURRECTION The Lord Is My Shepherd - The Choirboys What TV sitcom was this the theme song for? THE VICAR OF DIBLEY Who played Geraldine Granger, the Vicar? DAWN FRENCH And Alice Tinker, her verger? EMMA CHAMBERS Tulips From Amsterdam - Max Bygraves What was Max Bygraves' catchphrase? LET ME TELL YOU A STORY

Dancing In The Dark - Bruce Springsteen

What is the next celebration or bank holiday in our calendar?


What do people dance around on May Day?


Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life - Monty Python An uplifting song to finish with. Ask members to talk about their plans for Easter, or if after the occasion, what they got up to by way of celebration.

ACTIVITIES Maybe try painting blown eggs. There is a useful how to guide here ... https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/wales/entries/9cc4fa93-cc6f-3cac-b9ef-4fcbc43c6c8c Or you could buy a couple of straw hats for members to decorate with spring flowers, easter chicks and rabbits and mini chocolate eggs. Perhaps when complete members would like to try it on, or take one home?