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

Cariad Dementia Cafe - News Round Up

Here are the news stories we looked at this week in our 'Young Dementia Cariad Cafe'. Each was accompanied by discussion and reminiscence. Some songs were interspersed, with the aim of stimulating musical memory.

We started by looking at pictures of Cardiff Christmas lights, which had been switched on this week. With four weeks to go, we all thought this was a bit early, but agreed we needed to start getting in the spirit. We discussed when to start Christmas shopping, when to start writing or making Christmas cards, when the decorations should go up and so on.

To help further this conversation, we next looked at the new Waitrose & John Lewis Christmas 'Edgar The Dragon' advert. We agreed next week to look at some more Christmas adverts. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xGW_M0O4xI

'Children In Need' had happened last weekend. We agreed the total raised during the programme, some £47.9m, was an incredible amount, especially given concerns about Brexit and the difficult times people have been having lately.

Some of us had seen Rylan Clark-Neal's 'Karaoke Challenge', which had raised over £1m, and the 'Rickshaw Challenge', where various children and Matt Baker had cycled from Holyhead to London. The 'Hunter Foundation' had given £1m to this particular fundraiser, live on stage, which was amazing.

Next, we read the story about Sir Rod Stewart's train set, which he has been building over the last 23 years. He announced his creation in a railway magazine, then rang in to the Jeremy Vine show to confirm the story was true. He had made every item and had only had some help with the electrics.

We asked members to choose a Rod Stewart song for our first sing along. They choose 'Maggie May'. Here's the link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fD_6KqP7K0g

The east coast of the US had experienced violent snow storms this week. Here's a photo from Michigan. Venice had experienced it's worst floods in hundreds of years. And New South Wales continued to burn. We all agreed the extremes in weather caused by climate change were of grave concern and needed concerted international action.

On a happier note, two priceless items had been rediscovered this week. Firstly a 'lost' Boticelli was discovered in Cardiff Museum archives. It was thought to be a fake, but recent investigations including x-ray imaging had found it to be the real thing. The 400 year old 'Madonna' is now back on show, with pride of place.

Four years ago, this stolen 1734 Stradivarius violin was returned to Polish virtuoso Roman Totenburg's family and, after extensive restoration, it was played again this week by 19 year old Nathan Meltzer in Cambridge, Massachussets, who has it on long-term loan.

A taxi worker could earn thousands after buying a signed photograph and letter from Judy Garland for £1.50. Chris Ogden-Jacob, 47, bought the items - which are yet to be authenticated - at a second-hand book shop in Rhos on Sea in the late 1990s. There is no date on the letter, but judging by what she wrote, Garland must have written it in around 1941. If authenticated it could potentially be worth an estimated £1,700 to £3,000.

We asked members if anyone had seen the new film 'Judy', about her life story, and starring Rene Zellwegger.

Then we played our second song, 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas', from the 1944 film 'Meet Me In St Louis'. Here's a link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKG5X0QMSWA

Staying with the theme of movie greats, William Wyler's epic historical drama 'Ben-Hur' preimered in New York City 60 years ago this week. We remembered it starred Charlton Heston and roughly followed the story of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In fact, the movie is based on an 1880 novel by Lew Wallace entitled 'Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ'.

A couple of political stories had dominated the news this week. Firstly, Boris Johnson, Prime Minister, had released a video of himself being interviewed by a cockney journalist in his offices. We watched the clip and discussed whether the interview made him more or less 'human'. We also discussed who else likes Marmite? Here's the rather cringe-worthy video link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvnxJPBDZmw

Prince Andrew had run into difficulty this week, after a video interview with BBC Newsnight's Emily Maitlis was broadcast. In it he defended his relationship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and gave a visit to Woking Pizza Express as an alibi for an accusation made against him. We all thought the above headline was clever, as another statement he made was that he doesn't sweat since an overdose of adrenalin in the Falklands War.

A few animal stories followed ...

First, we watched a video of 'Catfishing' with mentoes, eggs and Coke. Members had to guess what was going to happen? Link here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MdRCGHRq6Q

Next we looked at a clip from BBC News of a Starling murmuration being broken up by a bird of prey. We marvelled at the patterns they formed. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-england-nottinghamshire-50440442/bird-of-prey-attacks-mesmerising-murmuration

Then we looked at pictures of baby barn owls, which did look remarkably alien.

Finally, we saw the story about the rescue puppy who was born with an extra tail sticking out of his forehead. Apparently the dog has been named 'Narwhal'.

Linked with the 'Catfishing' story, we asked members who had been watching this series of 'I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here'. We remembered that the show is hosted by Ant McPartlan and Dec Donnelly. And we listed the participants this year, which include ex-footballer Ian Wright, ex-rugby player James Haskell and GMTV presenter Kate Garraway.

We asked members which 'tasks' would they be able to do, before asking Ant and Dec to "Get me out of here ...!" The eating challenges seemed to be the most feared, followed by being enclosed with critters and heights.

Finally, we watched a daring video of the Red Bull Skydive Team 'flying' through the Swiss mountainside above Walenstadt. Marco Waltenspiel is captured flying at speed in this video. Talking of a fear of heights, yikes. Let's hope the parachute worked .... https://funnyjunk.com/Red+bull/pneeMca/

We wanted to finish with another song. As it was announced that Paul McCartney would headline Glastonbury in 2020 we asked members to choose one of his songs. We decided on 'Pipes Of Peace', as it brought us back to Christmas and a positive message to finish on.


I hope you liked this week's News Round Up. Please let me know if this is a helpful new feature of the 'Simon Dementia CST Blog'.